Huskies await NIT bid, maybe

christian.caple@thenewstribune.comMarch 16, 2014 

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar reacts to a play against USC during the first half of a 82-75 victory on March 8. UW will miss the NCAA tournament for a third straight year, the longest tourney drought in Romar’s tenure.

JOE NICHOLSON /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Washington Huskies can skip the big selection show on Sunday. Instead, they will be sweating the second one.

For a third consecutive season, UW will miss the NCAA tournament. But the Huskies (17-15) are also unsure of whether the National Invitation Tournament will extend a bid after Washington finished 9-9 in Pac-12 Conference play, tied for eighth in the standings, and lost to Utah in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

The NIT selection show airs at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU, after the conclusion of the NCAA tournament selection show, which airs at 3 p.m. on Ch. 7.

If the Huskies are selected by the NIT, it would be their third appearance in that tournament in as many seasons. Last year, they traveled to Brigham Young and lost in the first round. Two years ago, after winning the regular-season Pac-12 championship but failing to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, Washington advanced to the NIT semifinals in

New York before losing to Minnesota.

Hurting the Huskies’ chances of reaching the NIT is the number of regular-season conference champions that lost in their conference tournaments but don’t have good enough résumés to be selected as at-large bids to the NCAA tournament. That means each of those teams will earn an automatic bid to the NIT — teams such as UC-Irvine, Utah Valley and Vermont, for example — which leaves fewer available spots for such teams as Washington.

The NIT Bracket Project, one of a few websites that tries to project the tournament field, does not include Washington in its most recent projection. The website DRatings.com also excludes the Huskies from its projected field.

California, which is projected to wind up on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble, will likely be a high seed in the NIT. Utah is likely to be included as well. Most NCAA tournament projections list six Pac-12 teams in the field: Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford, Colorado and Oregon.

It seems unlikely that the Huskies would play in a lower-tier tournament such as the College Basketball Invitational. When asked Wednesday, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said only that “we’re hoping to go to the NIT.” Last season, after UW lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament, Romar said the Huskies would not play in the CBI if the NIT didn’t invite them.

Romar said after UW’s loss Wednesday that the Huskies would gather as a team to shoot around on Friday and Saturday, and will plan to practice Sunday night, pending their NIT fate.

HUSKIES TO PLAY IN CHINA

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced before Saturday’s Pac-12 tournament championship game that Washington and Texas men’s basketball teams will become the first teams in any major U.S. sport to play a regular-season game in China. UW will travel to Shanghai for a Nov. 13, 2015 matchup against the Longhorns.

An all-star team composed of Pac-12 players and coached by Oregon State’s Craig Robinson will also travel to China in August for a two- or three-game exhibition tour in at least three cities, the Pac-12 announced.

“We are excited to represent the Pac-12 as it launches this innovative addition to the basketball season,” UW athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “The event offers a unique bonding experience for the student-athletes early in the season and an excellent forum to showcase the university and connect with Washington alumni in China.”

christian.caple@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ChristianCaple

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