What Washington Huskies team will show up in the Tournament?

        What Washington Huskies team will show up in the Tournament?
With an offensive showcase in their win over another Pac-10 bubble team, the Washington Huskies may have just landed firmly in the NCAA field. The Huskies offense and defense too for that matter have been up and down all season, but the Huskies remain a threat to make it to the Sweet 16 again this year.

        Washington was the class of the Pac-10, rolling off four straight league victories by sizeable margins, before falling to Stanford on the road (surprising loss). Washington bounced back and kept on winning. 15-4 overall and 7-1 in conference and they were destined for a high seed, like a 4, in the NCAA Tournament. But a three-game skid, followed by another trio of conference losses had Washington fighting to hold onto the three seed in the Pac-10 behind Arizona and UCLA and just ahead of USC, California and Washington State. Even with their inconsistencies and no real marquee wins (except for beating conference-champion Arizona at home), the Huskies are still a threat to surge past a couple of teams in the field with their offense. It's high octane and high efficiency. Ken Pomeroy's measures (Kenpom.com) have Washington as the ninth best offensive team adjusted for efficiency. They have the 11th highest two-point field-goal percentage in the country and their 3-point accuracy isn't far behind.

        Under-sized scoring guard Isaiah Thomas (16.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game) and senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning (16 points, 8.3 rebounds) are two of the nation's more underrated players, as are the their role players. Justin Holiday, the older brother of Sixers' guard Jrue, and a couple of freshmen (CJ Wilcox and Terrence Holiday); all have had a couple of 20-point games. Lanky sophomore 7-footer shores up things on the defensive end, gathering rebounds and rejecting shots before getting the ball out to Thomas to start the fast-break offense going the other way.

        The Huskies' biggest strength in their perimeter shooting could also be their biggest weakness. The Huskies get to the free throw line at a measly rate (293rd in the country) with their outside shooters and lack of a true inside scorer. And when they do get to the line, they can't convert. They make just two-thirds of their attempts from the foul line (254th) Similarly, defensively, the Huskies have one of the worst free-throw : field-goal attempt rates in the country, meaning that Washington fouls much more than they should, both on the interior and on the perimeter (291st).

        Washington is likely a nine-seed depending on how the rest of the Pac-10 tournament shuffles out, but expect a solid post-season performance from the Huskies.

By President Corey Ruff - 3-11-11