After a heartbreaking, gutsy overtime performance in Pullman yesterday, Washington State's at-large bid hopes are all but extinguished. While they still can make the tournament by winning the Pac-10 tournament (They will play the rival Washington Huskies this Thursday at 8:30 PM on FSN), chances are, their postseason games will be played in the NIT tournament.
In an extensive search for NIT bracket projections I turned up two different sites, neither of which been updated since yesterday's action. One (The Bracket Project) had The Cougars in as a first seed playing Hofstra, the other (Chicagonow.com) has them as a second seed playing Rutgers.
Even if Washington State is eligible to host a game in the NIT, they are unlikely to do so. The games would fall during spring break, and are unlikely to sell a lot of tickets. The NIT requires a certain guarantee of tickets in order allow a team to host a game. This is not a chance that WSU athletic director Bill Moos is likely to take.
Meanwhile, across the state, Washington struggled against USC. A sweep this weekend would have likely punched their ticket into the dance, now Washington may very likely have some work to do to stay on the right side of the bubble. Jerry Palm, of CBS Sports, is the only person who we cover in our weekly bracketology update to update their projections through yesterday's games, has dropped UW down to a double digit seed for the first time this year. And, according to the Bracket Matrix, all but one of the recently updated projections have The Huskies as a ninth seed or lower.
A loss this Thursday in LA to Washington State may bump them out of the tourney, but it will make Husky fans squirm. There is nothing more suspenseful than sitting at home on Selection Sunday, waiting for your name to be called, when it never will be.
When Washington and Washington State clash for a third time this season, there will be a lot on the line. Both will be fighting for their NCAA Tournament life. The Cougars need to win it all, The Huskies just need to win a couple. When the Huskies and Cougars clash, tensions are always high. This week, it will be no different.