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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies. E-mail Bob.

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March 16, 2005

The road ahead

Posted by at 5:41 AM

Now that I have had a few days to actually comprehend what took place on Sunday, I finally have my wits about me (sort of). After the initial shock and awe of the Huskiesí seed and subsequent draw in the NCAA tournament, I have had time to sit down and go through the teams the Huskies could run into along the way.

I have believed in everything Iíve written all year, and I believe in this. The Huskies can get to the Final Four, and once they are there they can give Illinois (or whoever they may play) a serious run for their money.

Their first game is Montana. This is a team that finished with an 18-12 record, but against teams that had a prayer of cracking the top 100 in the country (Gonzaga, Stanford and Missouri) they lost by a combined total of about 600 points. I hate to look past any team, butÖ.NEXT.

A second round game could feature Pitt or Pacific. Pacific had been the darlings of the West Coast with a staggering run through their conference season, but they got beat by Utah State in their conference tournament final, and fell to an eight seed. I know they have only lost three games all year, (including a 11-point loss to Kansas) but I donít think they have the horses. Pitt has some big guys inside, but their guard play is terribly weak. Itís tough for their bigs to play well if their guards canít get them the ball, and I think UWís defensive pressure on the perimeter will be too much for Pittís backcourt.

Here is where things get fun. In the Sweet 16, the Huskies would draw either Louisville (miffed about being seeded as a four) or Georgia Tech (last yearís national runner up). Any combination of these teams would probably result in a 156-148 double overtime game, because there would be no shortage of scorers on the court. Hereís why I give UW the edge. Louisville played in a conference that had some good teams and some very awful teams. Their only big non-conference game was Kentucky (they lost). They lost at home to Memphis, and should have lost the Conference USA title game to them as well, but that poor kid missed free throws. Georgia Tech, as talented as they are, havenít been consistent or healthy all season. They went on a mini run in the ACC tourney, but Jarrett Jack hurt his ankle against Duke.

In the Elite Eight, the Dawgs could draw anybody from Wake Forest to Texas Tech to West Virginia, hell even UCLA could slide in there. But there is one match up that Husky fans want.

Gonzaga.

If the Bulldogs can get through to meet the Huskies in an Elite Eight showdown, it would be the biggest sports story in the history of Washington state, and it would be a huge momentum swing for West Coast hoops. And, I have no doubt the Huskies would win. Do you think that Nate Robinson wants to end his collegiate career getting bested by Derek Raivio? That would be a game that Robinson would simply take over. Regardless, it is a game that Northwest fans are craving.

I also think the Huskies can beat Wake Forest, whose guards are just as talented as ours, but have shown immaturity (Chris Paulís low blow to Julius Hodge) and inability to win without main contributors. The Huskies have faced losing one of their big guns and survived, and they are a very mature team.

Once (if) the Huskies get to St. Louis, I canít even begin to imagine what would happen, and I would have to watch it unfold just like everybody else.

Of course, this is why March Madness is called Madness. Nobody knows what will happen. If the Huskies donít shoot well, they may not get out of the second round. If they catch fire, they might not play a close game until the Elite Eight. This may be the single greatest sporting event in America.

By the way, make sure to catch the Dawgs on ESPNís All Access as "Sportscenter" follows the UW all the way through the NCAA Tournament.

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