Several Pac-12 teams could await in the second round, or maybe UW coach Mike Hopkins will face his alma mater, Syracuse, and his mentor in coach Jim Boeheim.
LAS VEGAS — It’s been a long four days for the Huskies since their first-round loss in the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday.
Immediately following the crushing 69-66 overtime defeat to Oregon State, the Washington men’s basketball team knew it had been eliminated from the NCAA tournament and would likely land in the National Invitation Tournament.
On Sunday, it becomes official when the 32-team bracket is unveiled at 5:30 p.m. during the NIT Selection Special on ESPNU.
Most postseason forecasts project Washington will be a seeded between Nos. 3-5 and is likely to host a first-round game at Alaska Airlines Arena on Tuesday or Wednesday.
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There could be some intriguing matchups involving UW if the NIT Selection Committee wanted to spice up the story lines for the games that’ll be televised on the ESPN networks.
In addition to Washington, the Pac-12 could send five teams to the NIT including Arizona State, Oregon, Utah and Stanford and possibly Colorado.
Any Pac-12 team would be an interesting second-round opponent for the Huskies.
The game that would draw the most interest would be a matchup between Washington (20-12) and Syracuse (20-13) — an early reunion between first-year UW coach Mike Hopkins and his mentor, Jim Boeheim.
Hopkins, who played at Syracuse, spent the previous 22 seasons with the Orange.
ESPN’s bracket expert, Joe Lunardi, projects Syracuse as a bubble team that will not receive one of the 36 at-large berths to the NCAA tournament.
Other intriguing possible NIT opponents include: Oklahoma and freshman sensation Trae Young, a 23-win Boise State team or Louisville, Notre Dame, Baylor and Oklahoma State, which are projected to land No. 1 seeds.
The Huskies are 7-8 all time in the NIT, but before they can ponder possible opponents they must first cope with the disappointment of missing the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight year.
“Losing is the worst feeling on planet Earth,” Hopkins said. “It just is what it is. The regular season, preseason was these guys. They bought into a system. They had great leadership, and they busted their butts every day, and they competed. You’ve got to give them all the credit.
“Losing … it happens and how you handle that is obviously a thing. But the standard of excellence is: What does it take to win? What does it take on a day-to-day basis? And these guys did an incredible job with more, hopefully, in the season to come.”