- The Washington Huskies lead the Pac-12 with a 9-0 conference record
- Overall, Washington has won 11 in a row
- Yet, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon all have better odds to win the 2019 NCAA title
When it comes to the Washington Huskies, let’s be honest, your first thought isn’t basketball. There’s good reason for that fact of life.
The Huskies haven’t played in the NCAA Tournament since 2011. Washington hasn’t advanced past the Sweet Sixteen since 1953, when Ike was President.
— Oregon Sports News (@oregonsportnews) January 30, 2019
Yet this season, it appears as if something special might be unfolding at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The Huskies currently lead the (admittedly down) Pac-12 Conference at 9-0 and now sit 18-4 overall.
But where’s the love? Not at the sportsbooks. Despite Washington’s solid and ever-improving campaign, Bovada still sees the Huskies as the fourth-most likely team from the Pac-12 to win the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Odds to Win 2019 NCAA Tournament: Pac-12 Teams
|Pac-12 Favorites||Odds to win 2019 NCAA Tournament at Bovada (Feb. 6)|
Washington’s last Pac-12 title in 2011-12. The Huskies were a No. 1 seed in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, but lost 93-79 to Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen.
Reasons to Like Washington
The Huskies are 39-17 since former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins took over as coach two seasons ago. This season, Washington is undefeated in conference play and undefeated at home. Every other team in the Pac-12 has at least three losses within the conference.
Washington’s four losses are all defendable, except a 22-point setback at Auburn in the second game of the year.
One of their losses, in particular, should inspire more belief than doubt. In early December, the Huskies traveled to the dreaded Kennel and played then-no. 1 Gonzaga tough before falling 81-79.
— Next Ones (@NxtOnes) January 29, 2019
Since the Pac-12 went to an 18-game schedule in 1988-89, Washington is the fourth school to reach the midway point 9-0. The other three – Arizona in 1987-88 and 1992-93 and Stanford in 2003-04 – all won the conference title by at least five games.
Huskies sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell leads the conference with 16.6 points per game and looks to be the favorite to win Pac-12 Player of the Year. Guard Matisse Thybulle leads the nation with 71 steals.
Reasons to Dislike Washington
Are the Huskies homers? They’ve fashioned their impressive start by going 12-0 at home and just 4-4 on the road. They are 0-3 against teams ranked in the top 25, including the aforementioned 22-point loss at Auburn and a 12-point setback to Virginia Tech on a neutral.
On defense, the Huskies are strong but susceptible to hot shooters. Hopkins brought the 2-3 zone with him from Syracuse and, while it’s proved effective in Pac-12 play, it will get lit up when opponents are stroking it.
As the Orangemen have consistently shown come tournament time, the zone can carry you farther than your true talent level at times, but runs into trouble against elite offensive teams.
It Isn’t the Pac-12’s Year (Again)
The worst thing the Huskies have going for them is that all of their remaining games are against Pac-12 opposition, and that’s not going to be the best prep for a March Madness run.
That’s the Washington Huskies https://t.co/xyYSYoHGLC
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) February 4, 2019
Both Fox Sports and CBS peg Washington as a no. 7 seed in their mock brackets.
Is Washington the Pac-12’s best team? Probably. But ultimately, being the best of a bad lot simply means you aren’t that good.