If Washington's name isn't called, it will have a lot to do with the dynamics of its conference record.
On the NCAA basketball committee’s so-called “nitty gritty sheets” — which contain all the pertinent numbers that govern its decisions — is a column that seems to hold the key to the decision on Washington:
Washington fans arguing for inclusion of the Huskies when the field is announced Sunday insist that column must stand for something. Shouldn’t winning the regular season of a major conference be enough?
But the devil is in the details, and if Washington’s name isn’t called, it will have a lot to do with the dynamics of its conference record.
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First, for the initial time in its history, the Pac-12 played an “unbalanced schedule” this year, owing to the inclusion of Colorado and Utah. No more can the league play a double round-robin — home and away against every school.
The UW appeared to benefit from that change, missing the hardest road trip in the conference to the Bay Area, where both California and Stanford were top-100 computer-ranked teams. In hairline cases, the committee is always wary of unbalanced schedules.
Second, the weakness of the Pac-12 — haven’t heard that topic discussed much, have you? — causes a drain at the back end of every would-be at-large team from the league. Washington has a 10-0 record against teams with an RPI computer ranking of 200 or above, more than any other power-conference school it’s competing against for the NCAA tournament. In the eyes of the committee, those wins are empty calories, and indeed, a drag on a résumé.
If the Huskies don’t make it, they may have the Atlantic-10 Conference to blame. Neither top seed Temple nor No. 2 Saint Louis made the A-10 final Sunday. Meanwhile, Xavier won its way into the tournament — ensuring a third bid from the league — and if St. Bonaventure upsets the Musketeers in the final, the A-10 gets four bids.
Elsewhere, the committee likely will wait until Sunday to settle on the last of the No. 1 seeds. Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina are considered solid for three of them, and the fourth appears to be a scrap between Big 12 winner Missouri and the winner of the Michigan State-Ohio State final in the Big Ten.
The committee — and a legion of folks filling out brackets across the country — will have to take into account some injuries on elite teams, including John Henson (wrist) of North Carolina; Branden Dawson (knee) of Michigan State; and Ryan Kelly (foot) of Duke.
Gonzaga (25-6) is expected to make its 14th straight NCAA tournament, figuring to be in the range of a No. 7 seed despite its overtime loss to Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference tournament Monday night.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com