When the Huskies take on Cal, it will, in many ways, be the game that determines what direction the season goes. A win and the Huskies have not only claimed first in the conference (with the tiebreaker over Cal), but they'll have also broken the hex that has bothered them when they leve Hec Ed.
From there, the schedule sets up about as well as you could hope. The teams that figure to give us more trouble (USC and UCLA) have to come to Seattle, while the teams that shouldn't be as much trouble (Stanford, WSU, Oregon and OSU) are met on the road. I firmly believe that if this team can get that first road win out of the way against Cal then it has an excellent shot of running the table and solidifying itself as a legtimate at-large - regardless of what happens in the Pac-10 tournament.
If we should lose to Cal, things aren't so easy. The game against Stanford becomes a must win for two reasons: 1) You can't lose to a team like Stanford when you're trying to move onto the bubble, and 2) Getting swept on the road again would probably destroy the team's psyche. At this point you can rationalize the losses: Texas Tech we played well, took them into overtime and nearly won. Georgetown was simply a bad matchup or us with their size advantage. The Arizona trip we were missing Justin Holiday. UCLA needed the heroics of a walk-on to win at the last second, and the USC game was a result of the UCLA hangover. But these things only matter if the team can win on the road this weekend, otherwise all of those excuses turn into: this team can't win on the road. And the players will probably believe it. And we will have already kissed the NCAA's goodbye, and we may be saying hello CBI.