Washington Huskies (14-11, 3-10) at Washington State Cougars (11-14, 5-8), Sun Feb 22, 5:30pm, ESPNU.
With only five games remaining and any NCAA tournament hopes long gone, it's time to look at this last few games in the context of next season.
Given that tonight will be the return of junior forward Jernard Jarreau, this contest should feel far more relevant to next year than those of the past few weeks.
Instead of watching for progress from young players like Donaven Dorsey or Darin Johnson (while hoping NWG will return for his junior year), we can now watch the final stretch of conference play with an eye on whether or not Jarreau can reestablish his on-court confidence now instead of waiting and wondering over the course of a long off-season.
Jarreau will be one of a handful of veteran players on the roster next year (Mike Anderson and Kemp will have already graduated), and he will be the only returning big man expected to contribute.
So, even if you're just about fed up after watching seven straight losses, think of the top-10 recruiting class and watch to see if Jarreau can log a decent 10-20 minutes in his first game back.
If he can, it would be a huge help to Shawn Kemp, recently left to protect the paint (something that has never been his strong suit) surrounded by four guards. Don't expect a double-double from JJ in his first game back, especially given his mild struggles before the injury, but look for a reasonable first step back.
Also hope that the combination of the high-volume DaVonte Lacy and the recently red-hot Kernich-Drew do not go bananas against Washington's soft perimeter defense.
You can find my full preview and prediction here.
Enjoy the game, and as always, Go Dawgs!