The NCAA tournament hopes and dreams of the Washington Huskies disappeared early Sunday evening when the brackets were announced and they were on the outside looking in.
Head coach Lorenzo Romar had prepared himself accordingly.
“You guys know I’m a glass is half-full guy,” he said. “Understanding how this whole prospect works, my glass has been half empty after the Oregon State game. I’ve been accused of being a pessimist the last three days more than I’ve been in the last 10 years. It’s because I understood how the process worked.”
While Romar knew they were going to be in trouble, his players did not.
“Our guys are very disappointed,” he said. “After winning the conference outright, I don’t think could see any way why they wouldn’t be in the tournament.”
Washington becomes the first power conference team to win a regular season championship and not earn a tournament bid in the modern era of 64 teams.
“Unfortunately, we had to be the one,” Romar said.
While Romar understood why they weren’t in because of the system, he didn’t necessarily agree with it.
“We are definitely one of the best 68 teams in country, but our numbers didn’t bare that to the selection committee,” he said. ”We had 10 losses and anyone of those losses turns into a win and we are in.”
But the OSU game stung because his players came out so flat with everything that was at stake.
“That’s the most disappointing of the whole thing,” Romar said. “We were in position to control the whole thing and we allowed someone else to take control.”
Colorado earned an 11 seed and will play Murray State, while Cal got a 12-seed and is in the play-in game against South Florida.
Here’s the bracket
By virtue of winning the league title, Washington earns a guaranteed spot in the NIT where Arizona and Oregon are also likely be invited. That will be announced in an hour.
“There are teams that are disappointed to be playing in this tournament that have to get up to play in this tournament,” he said. “There are others that are waiting to play in this tournament. If you play one of those teams, they can get you. It’s not what we wanted. It wasn’t our first choice, but we need to take a hold of it and seize the moment.”
The last time UW played in the NIT was in 1997.