After a mid-season controversy and losing a shot at the Pac-10 title, the Washington Huskies appear poised to end the regular season on a high note. And they might just make it to the NCAA tournament.
The Huskies were favored to win the Pac-10 title this year with the talent level they have. But, as reported by Seattle Times reporter Percy Allen, U-W suffered a last-second loss to Arizona on Feb. 19, which put the title out of reach for the Huskies. They're currently in third place with eight losses.
KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says two big things happened in the middle of the season to cause the Huskies to falter.
Key Player Injured
On Jan. 4, the Huskies lost their starting point guard Abdul Gaddy for the season with a knee injury. Gaddy attended Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma and was the highest-rated recruit in the state in 2008. He was considered to be the No. 2 point guard in the nation.
Sexual Assault Allegation
Four days after Gaddy's injury, a 16-year-old girl accused one of the Husky basketball players of rape. The police investigation was acknowledged by the university as a serious matter, but the player was not named (because he was not arrested or charged).
Art says the rape allegation and investigation were a big distraction for the team - complete with taunts from fans from opposing teams when they were on the road. Art thinks it's why they lost three games in a row - to Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State.
In the end, no criminal charges were filed. Casey McNerthney with seattlepi.com reported Seattle police and the King County Prosecutor's office found there was insufficient evidence to support a rape charge.
Art thinks the Huskies can win their final three games, which are all at home. They play WSU Sunday night, UCLA on Thursday (March 3) and USC on Saturday (March 5). He also thinks they can win the Pac-10 Tournament, which begins March 9 in Los Angeles.
That brings us to March Madness. Art predicts the Huskies will make it to the NCAA tournament. He says they have a chance of winning at least two and maybe three games, mainly due to star point guard Isaiah Thomas and strong center Aziz N'Daiye.
You can now find Art Thiel's work at the website Sportspress Northwest.