March 14, 2004
SEATTLE - They didn't have to wait long.
The Washington men's basketball team gathered around a television set to learn their postseason fate Saturday afternoon.
Minutes after the selection show began, the name "Washington" appeared on the screen among the first pairing of games. The Huskies received their 11th NCAA Tournament berth, stopping a four-year absence from the "Big Dance."
The room erupted as any lingering doubts that UW would be invited were erased. Skeptics questioned whether the Huskies would receive a bid after struggling to a 5-8 record to open the season. UW won the tournament committee over with a run of 14 victories in their final 17 games, including a 75-62 triumph over top-ranked and previously undefeated Stanford.
Washington (19-11) received the No. 8 seed and will meet No. 9 UAB, Friday, March 19 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The winner advances to meet the victor of Kentucky's matchup with Tuesday's play-in winner Lehigh or Florida A&M.
The second-round winner moves to the St. Louis Regional at the Edward Jones Dome.
Game times have been announced and Washington will play UAB at approximately 6:45 p.m. Pacific Time (9:45 Eastern) as the game is scheduled to start 30 minutes following Kentucky's first-round game that tips-off at 4:10 p.m. PST.
Washington has never before played against UAB in men's basketball. The Blazers tied for first place in Conference USA with a 12-4 record. UW's Lorenzo Romar coached in that conference during his three seasons at Saint Louis from 2000-2002. His Billiken squads posted a 3-0 record against UAB.
Seven-time national champion Kentucky is the top seed for the entire the tournament. The Wildcats won the only previous meeting with Washington, a 66-58 decision during the first round of the 1985 NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. That game marked the final coaching appearance of legendary Coach Marv Harshman who retired after 14 seasons at UW.
The Huskies are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999.
Washington registered a 12-6 record to finish second in the conference regular-season standings for the first time since 1986. UW advanced to the Pac-10 Tournament championship game for the first time since 1987.
The No. 8 seed is Washington's highest since entering the 1985 NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed. That team lost to 12th seed Kentucky.