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Are the Huskies a Tournament Team?

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RPI Watch is back

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Huskies have two very winnable games at homes against Cal and Stanford. With an already nice 12-4 record (2-1 in conference), it’s time to bring back RPI watch.

For many, thoughts of the NCAA Tournament this year seemed a longshot. But, Coach Hopkins and the 2-3 zone have the Dawgs in the conversation. In fact, CBS Sports have the Huskies in the West region as an 8 seed (going against Ohio State). SB Nation has the Huskies in as a 10-seed going against Creighton in the East region. Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology is not as bullish on the Huskies as they are nowhere to be found in the brackets. However, the College Basketball Power Index also found on ESPN has them projected as an 11 seed and one of just 4 teams (Arizona St., Arizona and UCLA) projected to make it from the Pac 12.

The Huskies have an RPI of 45 but its BPI is 144. As a refresher, RPI is a quantity used to rank sports teams based upon a team’s wins and losses and its strength of schedule. The College Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward. Currently, the Huskies strength of schedule is 62nd in the nation.

ESPN projects them with a 19-12 record and a 9-9 conference record. Even though they are projected in the tournament by several forecasters, the record would squarely put them on the bubble. At this point, their resume is good with the Kansas win on ESPN as a key victory along with a road win at USC. Of course, the Dawgs have blemishes such as the blowouts to Virginia Tech in New York and Gonzaga at home. UW must win a healthy amount of home games as well as some of their road games to keep in the conversation of a tournament bid. So far, so good as UW is 2-1 on the road.

The Pac-12 looks to be a league where any team can beat another. Take for instance, Colorado who were swept by Oregon State and Oregon one weekend and then beat #4 Arizona State and then #14 Arizona the next. Then there’s Stanford who stunned UCLA and then USC on a buzzer beater by Seattle native (and double UW commit) Daejon Davis. The previous weekend, the Cardinal were upended by a sub-par Cal team which the Dawgs face Thursday night.

One has to think that Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA are teams that will compete for the top spot in the conference this year. But, there’s a girth of teams in the middle that could have breakout seasons or just be working for an NIT bid.

It’s still early to tell whether the Huskies are a tournament team. Recall in 2014 that the Dawgs were thought to be a #3 seed when they got off to an 11-1 start only to have their season fall apart and finish 16-15. Call it wishful thinking, but I don’t foresee this team to fall off the cliff. Whether or not they can sustain their current level of play will be interesting to watch the rest of the season.