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Momentum, Not League Tourney Seeding, At Stake For UW Vs. USC
Release: 03/07/2014
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Win or lose in Saturday’s regular-season finale, the Huskies (16-14, 8-9 Pac-12) are locked into either an eight or a nine seed in the Pac-12 tournament. UW will play Wednesday at noon in the first round. And if it wins that it gets top-seeded Arizona in the quarterfinals Thursday at noon.

By Gregg Bell

UW Director of Writing


SEATTLE –
The Huskies’ itinerary is set for the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas.

So is their tall task there.

Regardless of whether the Dawgs (16-14, 8-9 Pac-12) win or lose to USC (11-19, 2-15) Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Senior Day at Alaska Airlines Arena, Washington will be seeded eighth or ninth for the  Pac-12 tournament next week in Las Vegas.

A study of all the possible scenarios of final regular-season standings in the conference and the league’s tiebreaking procedures shows UW is locked into an 8 or a 9 seed.

The Huskies will play the opening first-round game Wednesday at noon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in a tournament they must win with four victories in four days if they are to make the NCAA tournament.

"Seeding never matters to me — as much as the teams your face," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said Friday of any tournament.

UW could play Oregon, California, Stanford, or Utah on Wednesday in Las Vegas, depending on how other league regular-season finales go on Saturday.

The winner of Washington’s first-round game will play Pac-12 regular-season champion Arizona (28-2, 15-2) on Thursday at noon in the conference quarterfinals. The winner of that gets the earlier semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday.

"A four seed (which UW lost a chance of getting on Thursday night after losing  to UCLA) would be great because we would get the night off," Romar said. "After that, in this league? …"

The coach then shook his head to reiterate that a number next to your team name doesn’t matter.

The Huskies have gone 1-1 against Oregon, 1-1 against Utah, 1-1 against Stanford and 0-2 against Cal this season.

UW led Arizona, now ranked No. 3 in the nation, by six with 16 minutes left Jan. 4 in Tucson. But the then-top-ranked Wildcats rallied while forcing many of 15 UW turnovers to win 71-62.

The Huskies could end up in a tie for sixth place in the league’s final regular-season standings with a victory over USC, which won at Washington State Thursday night. As Romar said today being .500 in the league “is better than having a losing record, you know.

"But that’s not going to get us in the NCAA tournament. We have to do better."

Being .500 in the league would qualify the Huskies for a third consecutive appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, though it would hardly assure an NIT bid.

So more than anything else, Saturday’s Senior Day is about the Dawgs getting past a missed opportunity Thursday — they led UCLA by four early in the second half — to gain a valued carry-on for Tuesday morning’s flight to the conference tournament.

Momentum.

"I think that matters," Romar said. "This is such an intense four days that you have to go in thinking you can win it.

"You get in the tournament, win that first one, and all of a sudden you have that belief."

Romar said he is still deciding whether senior transfer Perris Blackwell will start -- as the post had all season until just recently – along with fifth-year senior C.J. Wilcox in their final home game. Senior walk-on Connor Smith will not start; he’s been with the team for just this season.

In the past, Romar has made it a point to start all seniors for their final game at Alaska Airlines Arena, including walk-ons that spent multiple seasons on the teams. One of the most memorable times was when he started former Dawg Pack student-section member Brendan Sherrer on Feb. 18, 2012, against Arizona with the conference regular-season title on the line.

Sherrer was nicknamed “The Human Victory Cigar” because UW won every game of the 31 in which he appeared from 2010-12; his first 29 appearances were in UW victories by 18 or more points.

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