After NIT snub, Huskies' self-righteous indignation warranted for once

As you probably guessed, I'm usually the last one to run to the defense of the Huskies when they're bothered about something. But in this case, Husky fans truly have a gripe.

I don't know if it's possible to call being left out of the NIT a travesty -- after all, you're playing for the right to be called the 66th best team in the country -- but for teams that find themselves on the outside of the NCAA Tournament looking in, it can provide valuable experience in a one-and-done tournament atmosphere.

I remember remarking to my dad after the Huskies' loss to WSU in the Pac-10 Tournament that Washington was a team that could go deep in the NIT. They seemed to be playing their best ball at just the right time, beating a pair of top five NCAA Tournament seeds to finish the regular season, then giving the Cougars all they wanted in the conference tourney.

Beyond that, they're a program with some prestige, having been to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments and are only two years removed from a No. 1 seed. And they've got star power, with at least three guys that probably will be in the NBA someday.

None of that mattered to the NIT selection committee.

My dad's a Husky fan, which makes me sympathetic to the UW's plight. But beyond that, as a college basketball fan, I'd just like to watch them keep playing. I would have liked the opportunity to see what they could do since they're just starting to gel.

When the NCAA gained the rights to the NIT in an antitrust settlement, it was supposed to lend some credibility to the tournament and reduce its second-rate status. Inviting the regular season conference champions who failed to win their conference tournaments was a step in the right direction.

Instead, it continues to be a joke. How can anyone take it seriously when the chairman of the NIT selection committee, C.M. Newton, tells USA Today:

“Ultimately, we each kind of put on a coaching hat and said who would you not want to play? That's who you kind of vote for. In this case, you were comparing Drexel against Air Force. Would you rather play Air Force or Drexel? Would you rather play Clemson or Drexel? Would you rather play Florida State or Drexel? In each case, the vote came out the way that it did.”

Now that’s some great reasoning! While the NCAA Tournament selection committee scours resumes for the better part of a week, this selection committee of former coaches – including Dean Smith and Gene Keady – asked themselves who they wouldn’t want to play. (Here's to guessing they pretty much just watch the teams who play on ESPN, but we've been over that one before ...)

Sounds highly scientific to me. I guess they wouldn't want to play Fresno State, who ended the season with a lower RPI than Washington after finishing third in the mighty WAC. How did Newton respond to that one? Here’s what he told The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta on his blog:

“You can find warts on every team and you can find beauty marks on every team.”

No doubt this guy was a coach – nothing like the non-answer answer!

Or how about Oklahoma State, which – believe it or not – actually finished with fewer road victories than Washington?

The point is, Husky fans have a reason to be ticked for once. And as a college hoops fan, I’m right there with them.

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