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Setting the Stakes for Senior Day

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What would a win over Oregon mean for UW’s Pac-12 finish and NCAA hopes?

NCAA Basketball: 2K Classic-Washington vs Virginia Tech Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing road loss to Stanford last Thursday the Dawgs have gotten the job done in games against Cal and Oregon State. Now they need to do the same against Oregon on Senior Day (also known as Dan Kingma Day). Here’s a look at what is at stake in this crucial contest.

Pac-12 Conference Tournament Standings

Yes, the Huskies have aspirations of the NCAA tournament. But first things first. Where Washington is seeded in the Pac-12 tournament will probably decide their NCAA fate. Currently, Washington is in a 4-way tie for 3rd at 10-7 entering the final game. Unfortunately, they’re 0-5 against the other 3 teams they’re tied with which means they’re in 6th place for now.

Let’s say the Huskies win, which KenPom thinks there is a 54% chance of them doing. They will be rooting hard for USC to beat UCLA, Colorado to beat Utah, and Arizona State to beat Stanford. If all 4 of those things happen then the Huskies will finish 3rd in the conference at 11-7. If UW wins and so do one of the 3 teams they’re tied with, we finish in 4th and still get a bye. If UW wins and so do two of those 3 teams, we finish in 5th and play Cal in the first round. If UW wins and so do all three of those teams, we finish in 6th and play Washington State in the first round. And if Washington loses then they’ll finish in 7th and play Oregon State in the first round. Here’s the percentage chance of each team finishing in each place with Thursday night’s results.

A win and the absolute worst case scenario is you have to play in the first round of the conference tournament against a team you’ve already beaten twice. A loss and you have to play Oregon State for a third time in which the final totals after 90 minutes of play are Oregon State- 174, Washington- 173. That is not a good way to guarantee your advancement. The last team to win the Pac-12 tournament without getting a first round bye was Colorado in 2011-2012 when Washington missed the NCAA tourney despite winning the regular season conference title.

NCAA Tournament

Once it became clear that Washington was actually going to be on the bubble, I felt that 23 wins would be the magic number to ensure the Huskies get to the dance. They’re sitting on 20 entering the game with Oregon. A win on Saturday would put them at 21. If they don’t get a first round bye it would mean a game with either Wazzu or Cal to get to 22 and then squaring off with one of Utah, UCLA, or Stanford for that elusive 23rd win. The question will be if 22 is good enough should they get a first round bye, win in the quarterfinals, and then lose in the semis?

The other question is what if they get to 23 by losing to Oregon, and then winning 3 straight before falling to Arizona in the tournament final. While that gets the Huskies to 23 wins, it also puts an extra loss on the resume. I don’t think that’s enough. I think if they lose this game that they have to get the auto bid to get in.

Here’s where things stand with the Huskies right now. These are the last 4 teams in and 4 teams out according to Jerry Palm at CBS. You can judge for yourself where the Huskies’ resume stacks up.

In Right Now

Louisville 19-11 (9-8). RPI: 41. KenPom: 34. Q1: 3-9. Q2: 2-2. Q3: 7-0. Q4: 7-0.

Remaining Game: at #47 NC State (Q1 game), 42% chance of victory

Providence 18-12 (9-8). RPI: 39. KenPom: 72. Q1: 4-8. Q2: 4-1. Q3: 6-2. Q4: 4-1.

Remaining Game: vs. #78 St. John’s (Q3 game), 63% chance of victory

Texas 17-13 (7-10). RPI: 59. KenPom: 43. Q1: 4-10. Q2: 4-3. Q3: 4-0. Q4: 5-0.

Remaining Game: vs. #29 West Virginia (Q1 game), 45% chance of victory

Alabama 17-13 (8-9). RPI: 58. KenPom: 56. Q1: 5-5. Q2: 6-7. Q3: 4-1. Q4: 3-0.

Remaining Game: at #22 Texas A&M (Q1 game), 29% chance of victory

Out Right Now

Syracuse 18-12 (7-10). RPI: 48. KenPom: 52. Q1: 2-7. Q2: 4-3. Q3: 7-2. Q4: 5-0.

Remaining Game: vs. #8 Clemson (Q1 game), 47% chance of victory

Utah 18-10 (10-7). RPI: 57. KenPom: 62. Q1: 2-7. Q2: 4-2. Q3: 6-1. Q4: 6-0.

Remaining Game: vs. #75 Colorado (Q2 game), 77% chance of victory

Washington 20-10 (10-7). RPI: 45. KenPom: 94. Q1: 4-4. Q2: 2-4. Q3: 6-2. Q4: 8-0.

Remaining Game: vs. #78 Oregon (Q3 game), 54% chance of victory

Marquette 17-12 (8-9). RPI: 64. KenPom: 49. Q1: 4-7. Q2: 3-3. Q3: 4-2. Q4: 6-0.

Remaining Game: vs. #33 Creighton (Q2 game), 53% chance of victory


Let’s figure out whether this is the worst case scenario for the Huskies or if there’s any chance they could fall even out of NIT contention.

Earlier in the year I looked at the qualifications for teams in the NIT over the last 3 years to see what the minimum requirements have been. The RPIs for those teams ranged between 33 and 108. Their KenPom ranking ranged between 35 and 108.

Right now Washington is at 45 in the RPI and 94 in KenPom. The RPI will be in the range no matter what but the KenPom number could get close to the low end with bad losses to Oregon and Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament. However, I’d be absolutely flabbergasted if a 20-12 Washington team with wins over Kansas and Arizona didn’t make the NIT. I am pretty confident this is the floor.


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