I’m sorting this by conference rather than by day of week so if you’re trying to find out what games to watch on a given night, try ctrl+f for the day you’re looking. Although if everything written below comes true then this becomes largely defunct by Thursday night.
Obviously, we’re rooting for the Huskies above all else. If UW wins the entire tournament then it likely locks them into a 7 seed no matter what else happens around them. But of course there’s a much better chance of them doing that if they get the right matchups.
#5 seed Colorado- There a few reasons to root for Colorado. The first is that they still aren’t completely in the clear to preserve a top-75 NET ranking despite winning three in a row (#70 right now). Colorado’s first game is at 2:30pm PT on Wednesday afternoon against last ranked Cal who is also on a 3-game winning streak. If they win that then they’ll play #4 seed Oregon State who just took Washington to OT at home. Even though the Huskies are 2-0 against both of those teams I’d much rather play Colorado for a 3rd time than Oregon State.
#6 seed Oregon- I don’t think I need to make a compelling argument here. The Ducks are probably the worst matchup for the Huskies of any team in the conference with their combination of length and athleticism. Arizona State is a close second but I’d much rather face them in the finals than Oregon. If UW loses in the tournament final to ASU it will sting but fine. If they lose to Oregon? Not only does that completely suck but it also gives Oregon an NCAA tournament berth. I’ll be rooting against the Ducks versus Wazzu in the late game on Wednesday night (8:30pm PT), then versus Utah, then versus ASU...
Single Bid Conferences
There are a few conference tournaments remaining that have potential bid thieves. The Huskies really only care about these games if they lose the Pac-12 conference tournament opener on Thursday afternoon. That’s the only scenario under which a bid is at all in question. Still, best not to tempt it.
WCC #1 seed Gonzaga- The Bulldogs face off against Saint Mary’s tonight (Tuesday night) at 6pm PT. This is one of the interesting situations where SMU would probably be in the field with a win over Gonzaga but if they win then they aren’t in the at-large pool and get in automatically. But a loss almost certainly eliminates them from consideration. A Gonzaga win means an extra spot in the field.
MAC #1 seed Buffalo- It’s not completely crazy to think that Toledo could sneak into the field with a loss in the MAC tournament final. But more than likely this is a 1-bid league and the Huskies have no chance to catch up to Buffalo so just root for the Bulls and move on. Their first game is on Thursday night at 9am PT against Akron so if you take the day off to watch the Huskies at noon then you can turn this one on for some morning basketball.
A10 #1 seed VCU- This one is slightly less straightforward. If the Huskies lose before the Pac-12 tournament final then just to be extra safe we can just root for VCU to win the A-10 tournament and prevent a bid thief situation. But if UW wins the tournament or maybe even loses in the final and VCU flames out in the first round then there’s a chance that Washington passes them on the S-curve. VCU won’t play their first game until Friday since they have a double bye so you’ll know by then how Washington’s first game went to determine how you feel.
From here on out things will be pretty obvious. We want any team that is currently viewed as a 5 seed in the NCAA tournament or higher to win until they play another such team. We want any team that is out of bubble consideration to win if they’re playing a team in bubble consideration. Only when there are two teams on the bubble playing one another is there really further analysis needed. For the ACC that means rooting for some combination of Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, and Virginia Tech making the semifinals and letting your personal biases take over from there. Clemson/North Carolina State play a loser stays home match for an NCAA berth and it doesn’t much matter to UW who wins as long as they don’t win a second one.
#7 seed Louisville: The Cardinal will be playing last seeded Notre Dame on Thursday after the Irish sprung an upset in pre-quarters. A win by Louisville doesn’t really help them much but a loss would be a very bad look. If that were to happen then it becomes very reasonable to imagine Washington passing Louisville by making it at least to the P12 tournament finals.
#6 seed Syracuse: Coach Hopkins owes a lot to Jim Boeheim but when it comes down to NCAA tournament seeding he’s got to look out for #1. Cuse plays the winner of Boston College/Pittsburgh on Thursday and has swept both teams this season. They’re likely locked into the tournament no matter what but from a UW perspective a Syracuse quarterfinals loss makes it just about impossible for them to be placed ahead of the Huskies.
The best case scenario is for the 1-4 seeds to hold serve and for this tournament to end up all chalk in the quarterfinals and then we can stop paying attention. Indiana and Ohio State are in the same scenario as Clemson/NC State above so we’re hoping the winner of that game loses to Michigan State but are ambivalent about who wins.
#6 seed Iowa: The Hawkeyes have lost 5 of 6 to slip from a potential 5 seed in the NCAA tournament down to the 8/9 range. Another loss to the winner of Illinois/Northwestern on Friday would expedite their plummet and guarantee that UW passes them with at least one Pac-12 tournament win.
#7 seed Minnesota: This one hurts a little bit since the Huskies lost (technically) to the Golden Gophers and their success could mean it gives a slight boost to Washington’s strength of schedule. But if Minnesota wins more games than UW does they could leapfrog the Huskies in the bracket and that’s more important. They start with a brutally tough matchup on Friday against Penn State who finished conference play 7-3 and who the computers show could be good enough to be an NCAA tournament team even though their 10 game losing streak and sub-.500 record eliminates them.
There are only 3 teams that get our full support in this conference as Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas Tech all making the semis is key. We also want Kansas State to make the final over the winner of the 4/5 game between Baylor and Iowa State. Both teams are in the 7-9 range in most brackets so it doesn’t make too much of a difference which one loses as long as they don’t win a second game.
#6 seed Texas: The Longhorns play Kansas at 6pm PT on Friday night and have a bizarre resume with probably at least 6 wins better than Washington’s best but with 15 losses. A 16th would be a record for an at-large bid so may as well give it to them in the quarterfinals since the Huskies can’t possibly catch Kansas.
#7 seed Oklahoma: The Sooners are just about a lock and solidly in the 8-9 range. A loss in the 1st round on Thursday night at 6pm PT to last seeded West Virginia would definitely knock them below the Huskies if UW pulls out its own Thursday game. If they do get past WVU as expected then we’re certainly hoping they go down against Texas Tech.
#8 seed TCU: Things would have to go very wrong for Washington for them to actually care about this result but TCU is a fringe bubble team and they play Oklahoma State on Thursday at 4pm PT who is nowhere close. That means an OSU win almost certainly bursts their bubble and that’s one less team to worry about.
Can we just insert in a big shrug emoji? The Big East is the only conference that comes close to the Pac-12 in its incredible parity. 80% of the conference finished between 7-11 and 9-9 in league play and there are 5 teams that are either narrowly in the tournament or squarely on the bubble. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that the Huskies pass Villanova/Marquette even with a Pac-12 tournament championship and a first round exit by one of those two. That means hope for a Villanova/Marquette final and just let everything else play out as it will. Play starts Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden and even if this tournament is less relevant to UW’s NCAA hopes it will probably be among the most entertaining.
The SEC is bizarre in that its #4 seed isn’t even on the bubble and has a worse shot at an at-large berth than 6 or maybe even 7 teams below it. We’re rooting for LSU, Kentucky, and Tennessee to all make the semifinals as expected. I don’t think there’s anyway we can pass Auburn after they beat Tennessee last week so it’s probably also for the best if they knock out potential bid thief #4 South Carolina and end up as the 4th semi-finalist.
#7 seed Ole Miss: The closest thing to a loser goes home game that the SEC has is the 1st round matchup between Ole Miss and Alabama. The Rebels are nearly a lock but a loss would probably drop them below the Huskies if the Dawgs take care of business in their 1st round game. Meanwhile, Alabama would probably need to win it all to pass UW. That means Roll Tide on Friday at 4pm PT.
#8 seed Florida: The Gators are very much on the bubble playing a team that needs a trip to the SEC finals just to be on the bubble. We want Arkansas to prevail on Friday morning at 10am PT. Yay morning basketball!
#1 seed Houston: Every team except Houston is either a bid thief or could be jockeying against Washington for bracket positioning with the right combination of results. That means we want the Cougars to win the whole thing and look convincing doing it.
#2 seed Cincinnati: I don’t think it’s very reasonable that the Huskies pass Cincinnati but it’s theoretically possible with a UW Pac-12 tournament championship plus a quarterfinals loss by the Bearcats. Because of that we’ll be rooting for the winner of Tulsa/SMU on Friday unless the Huskies lose their first round game then it doesn’t matter.
#4 seed Central Florida: The same scenario I laid out for Cincinnati applies here except it’s both much more realistic that UCF loses and much more realistic that UW passes them. It’s unfortunate for UCF that they have to play home team Memphis in the first round on Friday but it makes a quarterfinals loss much more likely and in that case a Pac-12 tournament final berth probably is enough for Washington to leapfrog them.
#1 seed Nevada: This doesn’t go under the one-bid conference category because Utah State is also very likely to get in but we definitely want one of those two teams to win and we definitely prefer if it’s Nevada. The Huskies aren’t catching Nevada (although man, imagine what if that preseason game counted?) whereas Utah State could surpass UW with a MWC tournament championship. If Nevada ends up winning the whole thing though then it probably solves all of our problems.
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