Gutcheck time for Washington on Oregon road swing – These are must wins

Washington's best player needs to quit being lethargic to start games and be a forty minute spark

It’s hard enough to believe that as we stand today, the University of Washington is primed to win the Pac-12.

These Huskies stumbled out of the gate, showing little on court chemistry or wherewithal to be able to survive the rigors of the season without a real veteran on court presence.

But, here we are, a five game winning streak and having won 11 of their last 13, Lorenzo Romar has once again been able to shove square pegs in to round holes as the season has gone deeper and deeper.

But there’s no patting the Dawgs on the back just yet.

The Huskies will spend the weekend in the not so hospitable Oregon region, where they were embarrassingly swept last season. Considering where that Husky team team ended up last year, and what they had already proven up to that point, that could have been chalked up as just another Romar road swoon.

This time around that won’t be quite so acceptable. It’s gut check time for Washington. Are the Huskies on a hot streak fluke? Or does this team have the character and mental maturity to walk in to a hostile environment and carry on the disciplined basketball they’ve been playing lately.

These are must win basketball games for the University of Washington.

Can Terrence Ross get off to a hot start and keep the crowd of it? Can Tony Wroten control his emotions and keep his mind focused on the game for forty minutes?

These questions and more will need to be answered if we are ever going to have confidence with this Husky team moving forward in to March. 9-2 in Conference is nice, but it’s 9-2 in the Pac-12. We know enough about this team this year to know that 9-2 can turn in to 13-5 or worse and a very, very, nervous selection Sunday.

Why would a win on Thursday night be so nice? Oregon aren’t such slouches themselves. Forget about that New Years Eve beatdown. The Ducks are an identical 16-7 and ran out of the gates in the Pac-12 after that Seattle beat down. What’s worse? The Ducks need this game much more than Washington.

While every Pac-12 NCAA tournament contender is hanging on by tooth and nail, the Ducks could potentially be the first ones to fall off the ledge. Demoralized after a tough road loss at Colorado, a win against first place Washington would provide the check mark for a “good win” on their schedule needed to revitalize their season. Don’t think that Dana Altman or the Pit crew don’t already know that.

And, don’t overlook the Beavers either. No matter how good or bad the Beavers are, Corvallis isn’t exactly friendly territory for Washington either.

Despite being in first place, the margin for error for Washington is very little. Their RPI has fallen to 75th in the country according to realtimerpi.com, good for fourth in the Conference, behind California and Colorado teams that have defeated Washington. Washington will need to enter the Pac-12 tournament with at least 22 victories, and will need it’s RPI at least in the 50s to feel even remotely comfortable about the possibility of an at large bid.

That will only happen if Washington can prove that its the real deal, and if Washington can finish off their conference run with 14 or 15 Pac-12 victories.

It starts this Thursday in Eugene.

Road wins will be quite premium for these Dawgs. A slip up in Oregon and it will most likely be back to “Pac-12 Tourney championship or bust”…..again.