Let’s start with the obvious caveat. The number one thing to root for is for the Huskies to keep winning games. Coach Hop and the players are focused entirely on the next opponent. But as fans, we don’t have to be. If the Dawgs win their last four plus the Pac-12 tournament then they will likely be a #6 seed in the NCAA tournament. At that point everything else around them probably doesn’t matter all that much.
But if they lose a game or two then the right result could be the difference between staying a #7 seed or heading to the dreaded 8-9 matchup with a game against Duke as your reward for winning. This guide is for those who want to tune into a random college basketball game on Tuesday night and have a rooting interest without putting money on the game.
There are currently 2 reasons why UW fans are rooting for/against a team. The first is if it is a team the Huskies have already played and their success will help Washington’s resume. The second is if they are a team that is near Washington in their tournament seeding projection and so a loss would potentially cause them to fall below the Dawgs.
I’ll put out a new weekly rooting guide each Monday for the rest of the season so you can plan out your college basketball watching schedule accordingly. I’ll only include games where the outcome we’re rooting for is semi-realistic. If we really needed Cal to beat Duke I wouldn’t include it because there’s not a reasonable chance of it actually happening. I’ll also be making edits to this throughout the week depending on how results turn out so check back in each day to see how things change.
For context here are seeds 5-9 on Bracket Matrix and the percentage chances of UW’s finishes per KenPom.
5: Maryland, Kansas State, Iowa State, Nevada
6: Virginia Tech, Louisville, Mississippi State, Villanova
7: Iowa, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Washington
8: Baylor, Auburn, Ole Miss, Syracuse
9: Wofford, St. John’s, Texas, Oklahoma
UW 4-0 finish: 34.3%, 3-1 finish: 43.2%, 2-2 finish: 18.9%, 1-3 finish: 3.4%, 0-4 finish: 0.2%
Kansas State at Kansas (66%)– 6 pm PT, ESPN
The Wildcats are currently about 10 spots ahead of Washington on the S-curve according to the amalgamation of bracketologists on Bracketmatrix.com (when I reference how many spots ahead/behind the Huskies are on the S-curve from here on out I’ll be using Bracket Matrix). That’s a solid advantage that probably can’t be made up but if Kansas State completely falls apart down the stretch then they could theoretically be passed by Washington. But if K-State adds a win at Kansas that probably means it’s impossible for the Huskies to surpass them.
Iowa at Ohio State (58%)– 4 pm PT, B10 Network
Washington only trails Iowa by 3 spots on the S-curve and the Hawkeyes have a tough close to their schedule with 3 of 4 on the road. If Iowa loses all of those road games to finish 21-9 with four of those wins coming in the last few seconds then I think the Huskies have a good shot of finishing ahead of Iowa in the bracket. If Ohio State won out they could potentially catch Washington but I think they get tripped up by at least one of Purdue or Wisconsin so it’s not something to worry about right now.
Maryland at Penn State (44%)– 3:30 pm PT, B10 Network
You might think that Maryland losing against a team with an 11-16 (4-12) record would fall under the “not realistic” category. But 12 of Penn State’s 16 losses have come by single digits including a 7-point defeat at Maryland earlier this year. They knocked off Michigan a few weeks ago and have also beaten Virginia Tech. The Terrapins have a two seed line advantage over UW but if they lose here, to Michigan, and in the 1st round of the Big 10 tournament then they can be jumped
Tennessee (66%) at Ole Miss- 4 pm PT, SEC Network
Ole Miss is within a few spots of the Huskies in most brackets (though generally behind them) and so having them lose a chance for a Q1 home win would be a good thing. A win over Tennessee almost certainly vaults them over Washington. The Running Rebels also host Kentucky next week so they will have another chance for a signature victory. And we’ll likely be rooting against them again next week.
Cincinnati at SMU (35%)– 6 pm PT, CBS Sports Network
Cincinnati is another team that is viewed as either on the same seed line as Washington or one ahead by most people. Yesterday it took them a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left launched with 0.1 seconds left on the shot clock to top UConn on the road. They still have a road game at UCF and home game at Houston remaining so they’ve got better chances to improve their resume than the Huskies from here on out. But it also means they’ve got a good chance at acquiring at least another 2 losses. But lose this one as well plus at some point in the conference tournament and the Huskies almost certainly pass a 7 or 8-loss Cincinnati team.
Arizona at Oregon State (64%)– 6 pm PT, FS1
Arizona State at Oregon (58%)– 8 pm PT, Pac-12 Network
This is a bit of a cluttered mess. The ideal situation for the Huskies is to have as many of these 4 teams end up in the top-75 of the NET as possible. That’s the cutoff when a road game becomes Q1 for the team sheet and a home game becomes Q2. As of Monday morning Arizona State is 63rd, Oregon 75th, Oregon State 78th, and Arizona 80th. ASU has the most cushion for a fall to remain in the top-75 so it’s best if they take a loss now. Arizona has the worst chance of getting in so it’s also best if they lose. But there’s still enough variability that it isn’t a killer if we see the opposite results. I’ll wait to update the Saturday/Sunday section with the rest of the Arizona schools vs. Oregon schools matchups because honestly who we’re rooting for at that point depends on who wins these two games. Also, if you refuse to root for Oregon and are instead hoping for the other 3 to stay in the top-75 then as a Husky fan that is completely reasonable.
Iowa State at Texas (53%)– 11 am PT, ESPN2
The Cyclones lost to TCU on Saturday which seemingly knocks them out of contention for a Big 12 title and has dropped them to a 5-seed in most brackets. They still have a home game against Texas Tech and will play a NCAA tournament team in the 1st round of the Big-12 tournament. 3 more losses and Washington could slip above them. If Texas won out then they could theoretically vault over UW but with multiple road games against NCAA teams left on the schedule I don’t see it happening.
Mississippi State at Auburn (67%)– 1 pm PT, ESPNU
This one is tough. MSU currently slots about 5 spots ahead of UW but if they add a road win over Auburn it will be better than anything on UW’s resume and they’ll be hard to catch. But Auburn is two spots behind Washington and the Huskies don’t want to get leapfrogged. And of course the Huskies have played Auburn so they help UW’s strength of schedule. My answer here might change if one of these teams loses a game they’re supposed to win earlier in the week. But right now I’ll take the risk of getting passed by Auburn to jump over MSU.
Ole Miss at Arkansas (51%)– 1 pm PT, SEC Network
There’s much less ambiguity in this matchup involving a basketball team from Mississippi. Arkansas is a borderline NIT team so pinning an extra loss against Ole Miss without a downside is exactly what we want.
Utah at Colorado (71%)– 3 pm PT, ESPNU
Washington has swept both of these teams so this is entirely about how it affects their NET rankings. Colorado is 76th and Utah is 101st. The cutoff at 100 for the quadrant system only matters for neutral court games so games against Utah look the same whether they stay 101st or move up to 90th. But the Colorado road win and home win would both raise a point if they end up in the top-75. With 3 home games left they’ve got an excellent shot at going 3-0 and boosting the Husky resume.
Baylor at Kansas State (68%)– 5 pm PT, ESPN2
This is another toss-up. If Kansas State beats Kansas on Monday then we can give up on the dream of passing them fully root for the Wildcats the rest of the way. Baylor is right behind the Huskies at the moment so giving them another Q1 win seems inadvisable. But if both Kansas State and Baylor lose in their first game of the week then I think we shift to rooting for Baylor and get less concerned about them passing UW and more focused on the possibility of passing KSU.
Michigan (50%) at Maryland- 12:45 pm PT, CBS
This is an easy one. Maryland might already be too far out of reach to potentially jump but Michigan definitely is so there’s no reason to root for the Terps to pick up a Q1 win at home. If they win at Penn State on Wednesday as referenced in that section then that dream probably dies even if they lose out and so this game becomes irrelevant for Washington.
You can follow me @UWDP_maxvroom for all your UW Men’s Basketball news and notes