Texas-Arlington (24-8) at Washington (21-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 13, 10:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alaska Airlines Arena (10,000) -- Seattle, Washington. Television: ESPNU. NIT Record: Texas-Arlington 0-1, Washington 3-5. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A disappointed Washington Huskies squad has little time to feel sorry for itself as it prepares to take on the Mavericks of Texas-Arlington in the first round of the 75th annual NIT at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle.
The Huskies, one of the top seeds in this year's event, became a team of distinction on Sunday when it became the only school from a power conference to win the regular-season title in the modern era and then not be invited to take part in the NCAA Tournament. Adding insult to injury is the fact that a team like California was added in to the NCAAs as an at-large bid ahead of Washington.
But at this stage there's no point crying over spilt milk and Washington simply needs to move forward and try to make the best of the situation. The Huskies delivered a 14-4 record in the Pac-12 Conference this season and rattled off five straight wins and 10 in a span of 11 games before losing the regular-season finale against UCLA on March 3. Just five days later Washington was the top seed in the conference tourney and was sent packing by Oregon State, 86-84.
As for the Mavericks, they are an eight seed in this event even though they sport one of the top win totals in the tourney with 24. At one point during the regular season, the team posted a 16-game win streak before bowing to Weber State on the road in a non-conference bout on Feb. 18. A near-perfect 15-1 against the rest of the Southland Conference, UTA defeated Nicholls State convincingly (96-48), setting a new record for the largest margin of victory in the tourney. Unfortunately, the Mavericks couldn't carry over any of those points as they lost to McNeese State a day later, 92-72.
This is just the second trip to the postseason NIT for UTA, the team losing its only previous appearance way back in 1981.
Washington has taken part in this tourney five times previously but has had very little success with just three wins in eight opportunities. The last appearance for the Huskies came in 1997.
The winner of this first-ever meeting will head to the second round to clash with the survivor of the Akron/Northwestern contest.
The Mavericks set a number of program records during this eventful season, their 16-game win streak far and away the longest they've ever had (the previous long was nine games). Texas-Arlington, which is set to join the Western Athletic Conference beginning in July, played offense mostly out on the perimeter in 2011-12, the team registering the fourth-highest total in team history for three-point attempts (626) and conversions (224), and that helped the program to become one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation this season with 77.0 ppg. Unfortunately, the defense allowed even more three- point makes (247) over the course of 32 games, so the Mavericks were both rewarded and penalized by the long ball at the same time. LaMarcus Reed was the top scorer for the group with his 17.8 ppg, followed by Bo INgram (12.7 ppg) and Kevin Butler (10.9 ppg), while it was the job of Jordan Reves (9.2 ppg) to handle the missed shots by clearing 7.8 rpg and Shaquille White-Miller (4.7 ppg) to sacrifice his own point production to record 116 assists.
As painful a loss as it was against Oregon State last week, it is time for the Huskies to move beyond the fact that they shot a dreadful 12-of-27 from the free-throw line in the meeting, a mere 9-of-22 at the stripe in the second half when it really counted the most. Trying to fight his way beyond the past is Tony Wroten who is someone who could easily change the team's fortunes moving forward. Wroten led the team in scoring with 16.7 ppg and was also second on the team with 3.6 apg and a major force on the glass with five rebounds per outing as well. However, Wroten is a perfect example of why this group suffered such a mighty blow, his mere 57.6 percent shooting at the free- throw line bringing the entire squad down to a woeful 61.2 percent. Terrence Ross (15.3 ppg) and C.J. Wilcox (14.0 ppg) are huge contributors at the offensive end of the floor as well, their specialty being three-point shooting as they combined to make good on 121 shots from long range which helped the Huskies to generate a hefty 75.2 ppg.
Considering these two teams were among the top-scoring programs in the country, this is a meeting that could conceivably see one or both reach triple digits. But no matter how high the score goes, Washington has got to grab the win or else it means the entire season was for naught.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 81, Texas-Arlington 74
03/13 10:43:03 ET