Washington already knew it was going to The NIT. On Sunday, the Huskies learned they’ll play Boise State in the first round of the tournament.
The fifth-seeded Huskies will actually host the No. 4 Broncos at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Alaska Airlines Arena due to a scheduling conflict. Boise State’s venue, the Taco Bell Arena, is hosting first-and second-round NCAA Tournament games. This is UW’s first NIT appearance since the 2015-16 season. It is also the ninth time in school history UW (20-12) has reached The NIT. UW’s best finish in The NIT came in 2012 when it reached the semifinals.
Boise State (23-8) tried to play its way into the NCAA Tournament and was the No. 2 seed in the Mountain West Conference Tournament. BSU, despite getting a bye, fell in its only conference tournament game, 78-75, to Utah State. The Broncos and Huskies met in a closed-door preseason scrimmage, with the Broncos reportedly winning the session.
The Huskies are 8-1 all-time against the Broncos. This is the first time the teams have officially met since Dec. 23, 1999, according to UW.
“This is a great opportunity for our team to continue to play more games, get more practices in and continue to grow in this system and culture we are putting into place here at Washington,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said in a statement. “I’m very proud of the hard work they’ve put in to get to this point and to be rewarded by extending our season is a great chance to keep getting better.”
As of a week ago, the Huskies were trying to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. UW was 20-11 going into the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
The Huskies entered the NCAA Tournament discussion in February following wins over then-No. 25 Arizona State and then-No. 9 Arizona. Both the Sun Devils and Wildcats would go into to reach the Field of 68.
UW’s NCAA Tournament hopes started plunging when the Huskies lost three straight games and finished the year losing six of their last nine games. Three of those six losses were decided by fewer than eight points.
A late-season skid saw the Huskies go from being a potential entry to a bubble team to needing major help just to get back in the conversation.
Hopkins and the Huskies opened with Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. UW and OSU were 1-1 with both games being decided by three points or fewer.
The Huskies and Beavers went into overtime but UW was without leading scorers Jaylen Nowell and Noah Dickerson due to foul trouble. UW would lose its first round game and, in the process, expedite its trek to the NIT.
UW hired Hopkins, a longtime Syracuse assistant, after it fired Lorenzo Romar following a 15-year tenure on Montlake. The Huskies finished 9-22 overall and only won two conference games in Romar’s final season.
Picked to finish 10th in the preseason Pac-12 rankings, the Huskies opened the year 3-0 before losing two straight in The 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
UW pushed its non-conference record to 10-3 and surpassed its win total from last season. The most notable win in those 13 games was an upset over then-No. 2 Kansas in Kansas City, Mo.
The Huskies opened Pac-12 play on a 4-1 run and after losing two straight, they won four in a row against Colorado, Washington State, ASU and Arizona.
Winning four straight saw UW run its record to 17-6 and 7-3 in the Pac-12. Soon, the Huskies would lose three in a row to Oregon, OSU and Utah.
UW broke its streak by beating Colorado but would fall to Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. The Huskies won two straight over Cal and OSU but would lose to Oregon on the final day of the regular season.
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark
National Invitation Tournament Glance
All Times PDT
Tuesday, March 13
Wagner (23-9) at Baylor (18-14), 4 p.m.
Northern Kentucky (22-9) at Louisville (20-13), 4 p.m.
Vermont (27-7) at Middle Tennessee (24-7), 5 p.m.
Boston College (19-15) at Western Kentucky (24-10), 5 p.m.
Florida Gulf Coast (23-11) at Oklahoma State (19-14), 6 p.m.
Hampton (19-15) at Notre Dame (20-14), 6 p.m.
Rider (22-9) at Oregon (22-12), 7 p.m.
SE Louisiana (22-11) at Saint Mary’s (28-5), 7 p.m.
UNC Asheville (21-12) at Southern Cal (23-11), 8 p.m.
Wednesday, March 14
Harvard (18-13) at Marquette (19-13), 4 p.m.
Louisiana-Lafayette (27-6) at LSU (17-14), 4 p.m.
Temple (17-15) at Penn State (21-13), 5 p.m.
Nebraska (22-10) at Mississippi State (22-11), 6 p.m.
UC Davis (22-10) at Utah (19-11), 6 p.m.
BYU (24-10) at Stanford (18-15), 7 p.m.
Boise State (23-8) at Washington (20-12), 7 p.m.
Hampton-Notre Dame winner vs. Temple-Penn State winner
Rider-Oregon winner vs. Harvard-Marquette winner
Wagner-Baylor winner vs. Nebraska-Mississippi State winner
Vermont-Middle Tennessee winner vs. Northern Kentucky-Louisville winner
UNC Asheville-Southern Cal winner vs. Boston College-Western Kentucky winner
BYU-Stanford winner vs. Florida Gulf Coast-Oklahoma State winner
SE Louisiana-Saint Mary’s winner vs. Boise State-Washington winner
Louisiana-Lafayette--LSU winner vs. UC Davis-Utah winner
Hampton-Notre Dame-Temple-Penn State winner vs. Rider-Oregon-Harvard-Marquette winner
Wagner-Baylor-Nebraska-Mississippi State winner vs. Vermont-Middle Tennessee-Northern Kentucky-Louisville winner
UNC Asheville-Southern Cal-Boston College-Western Kentucky winner vs. BYU-Stanford-Florida Gulf Coast-Oklahoma State winner
SE Louisiana-Saint Mary’s-Boise State-Washington winner vs. Louisiana-Lafayette--LSU-UC Davis-Utah winner
At Madison Square Garden
Tuesday, March 27
Game 1, 4 p.m.
Game 2, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 29
Semifinal winners, 5 p.m.