Faulty Logic

You may have read somewhere that the Huskies magic number for making the NCAA tournament is 5. In that, if this Husky team wins 5 games between now and the end of the Pac-12 tournament, they can probably feel good about making the NCAA's. And I'm here to tell you that this is nonsense. I'm not trying to be Debbie Downer, but to ascribe a set number of wins to the rest of the Husky season is to ignore what happens every year in the month of March.

As anyone who regularly monitors conference tournaments and the selection process will tell you, the bubble is constantly changing (hardening, softening, growing, shrinking, other sexual entendres), and this far out there is simply no way to know what it will take to get into the tournament. If some of those 31 automatic bids start going to surprise teams, or teams with similar resumes as Washington, then it's going to get harder and harder to get an at large. And yes, it's going to happen, because it does ever year. It's just a question of magnitude, and with this season of college basketball lacking as many dominant teams as in years past it would be very easy to see a greater number of surprise conference tournament winners.

Then there's the issue of winning games without improving your resume. Nobody is going to care much about UW beating ASU at home. Winning at USC doesn't really blow anyone's skirt up in the air. The only game left on the schedule that could be mistaken for a sexy win is vs Arizona on Saturday. Conversely, the only team left on the schedule that you would expect an NCAA team to lose to would be Arizona, so the most important game to win is also the one that is the most "loseable", which brings up the Dawgs' biggest problem if they don't win out: who they've lost to. All it is going to take is for someone in the selection room to say "But, South Dakota State" and everyone else goes "Oh yeah, also, Pac-12" and then one jerk says "Oregon blowout" and the Huskies are NIT bound. There simply aren't any games left on the schedule besides Arizona that you'd be OK with losing. And winning out (which would hit the magic number) and then going into the tournament and losing to, say, USC would be almost as bad because (right or wrong) the committee sometimes uses conference tournaments to project NCAA performance.

I'm not here to say that 5 more wins definitely won't get UW into the tournament, but let's not go having any tea parties if they do hit that number. A magic number is exactly that: magic. And we just so happen to live in a world where what is known as magic is actually just an illusion.

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