SEATTLE – The Washington Huskies can skip the big selection show today. Instead, they will be sweating the second one.
For a third straight 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 UW finished 9-9 in Pac-12 play, tied for eighth in the conference 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 CBS.
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.
The NIT Bracket Project, one of a few websites that tries to project the NIT field, does not include Washington in its most recent projection. The website DRatings.com also excludes the Huskies from its projected NIT field.
Cal, 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 UW 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.