The University of Washington Huskies are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 season and will take on the No. 8 seeded Utah State Aggies in the Midwest Region on Friday, March 22 ( 3:50 p.m. PT) in Columbus Ohio. The No.9 seeded Huskies will be looking to bounce back from their Pac-12 Tournament Championship game loss to the Oregon Ducks.
This is the second time that Utah State and Washington will be playing one another in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, also doing so in 2006 when the fifth-seeded Huskies posted a 75-61 win in San Diego, Calif., in the Washington D.C. Region. Utah State’s last win in the NCAA Tournament was against fifth-seeded Ohio State (77-68 ot) in Greensboro, N.C., in 2001.
The Aggies 64-57 victory over San Diego State in the Mountain West Title game earned the NCAA Tournament birth. Utah State earned four of the six Mountain West regular season individual awards to go along with a pair of all-conference awards.
Sam Merrill was named MW Player of the Year, Craig Smith was named Coach of the Year , and Neemias Queta was Defensive Player of the Year, A-ll defensive team and First-Team All-Mountain West . Sam Merrill was named Second-Team All-Mountain.
If the Huskies are to have any success against a mirror-like image of themselves, a team that plays hard-nosed defense, they will need to play with poise according to senior guard David Crisp.
UTAH STATE AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
Utah State ranks among the top 20 teams in the nation in 10 statistical categories, including ranking sixth in rebound margin (+8.9), eighth in defensive rebounds per game (29.41), ninth in assists per game (17.2), ninth in field goal percentage defense (39.1), 17th in scoring margin (+12.3 ppg) and 19th in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.37).
Utah State’s No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament is its highest in school history. Overall, USU has been listed as a 10th-seed twice (1983, 1988), an 11th-seed twice (1980, 2009), a 12th-seed six times (1998, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2010, 2011), a 14th-seed once (2005) and a 15th-seed once (2003). Utah State opened the year picked ninth in the preseason MW poll.