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Big week for Huskies’ tournament chances

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Colorado and Utah road trip could tell us if Dawgs are contenders or pretenders

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

After splitting a pair of games at home, Coach Hopkins’ team is looking to stay in the conversation of the NCAA tournament with a trip to Utah and Colorado this week. At 13-5 (3-2 in conference), the Dawgs will try to find some offensive consistency and at least a split of the road trip.

A loss to Stanford (with an RPI of 95) hurt the Dawgs chances of making the tournament...although the way the Cardinal are currently playing may leave us to hesitate. Despite a terrible non-conference, Stanford finds themselves at the top of the conference with a sweep of the Washington schools. They continue the surge with a home victory over the Sun Devils on Wednesday night.

The Huskies have an RPI of 50 (dropping from last week) and a BPI of 144 which is actually the same. The Dawgs have a strength of schedule of 56 and UW’s opponent strength of schedule is 68. This week’s opponent’s have lower RPIs (Utah 65, Colorado 52) than Washington so a loss, especially to the Utes, would hurt.

As far as forecasting the Huskies tournament chances, the optimism may have fell off slightly. CBS Sports still have the Huskies in the tournament as a 10 seed in the south region playing Arkansas. SB Nation had the Huskies in last week and now are the first team out of the tournament. Notably, the same bracket forecast has Kansas as a top seed. The Jayhawks are the signature win for the Dawgs thus far.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi does not have the Huskies anywhere in Bracketology. Lunardi includes Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA (as one of the last four in) from the Pac-12. This may change again with Stanford’s resurgence in conference play and the Sun Devils poor start.

ESPN projects UW with an approximate record of 18-13 and an 8-10 conference record. The record falls off the pace for a tourney resume but a strong week against Utah and Colorado can help cure this. Both the Utes and Buffs are looking to remain relevant in the Pac 12 race as well and it feels like these two games are crucial with the next three games (WSU, ASU and Arizona) at home.

The fact that we are even talking about a shot at the tournament is great for the program. But now that they are in this spot, hopefully the team can find some consistent offense and get to February and March with a legitimate chance of playing in the tourney.