LAS VEGAS — Selection Sunday holds new meaning for the Washington Huskies.
While many sports fans wait with anticipation for the NCAA to unveil the bracket for its 68-team men’s basketball tournament, UW and its followers must wait about three hours later to discover their postseason fate.
The National Invitation Tournament pairings will be announced on ESPNU at 6 p.m. when the Huskies discover if they’ll play another game.
For the second straight year, they’re sitting on a tournament bubble, but if this one pops it’ll mean the end of their season.
Their bid to play in the Big Dance ended after Thursday’s 80-77 defeat to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals.
Washington is still a NIT contender, but there’s no guarantee the Huskies will be one of the 32 teams receiving an invitation.
They’re No. 91 in the RPI, which is respectable for a NIT candidate. They’re 5-3 in the past eight games and they advanced to the NIT semifinals last year in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Those are all good signs for Washington.
Still, the Huskies aren’t a lock to return. At 18-15, their record is far from stellar and they’ve been burned by the NIT before.
Washington finished 19-13 in 2006-07 and did not receive an invitation.
The website NIT Bracket Project does not include Washington in its projections, and a numbers game could work against UW.
Any team that won its conference regular-season title but didn’t make it into the NCAA tournament gets an automatic berth into the NIT.
The automatic qualifiers include: Stony Brook, Mercer, Charleston Southern, Long Beach State, Northeastern, Norfolk State, Niagara, Robert Morris and Louisiana Tech.
There are 23 spots that are open.
Arizona State (21-12) is expected to receive an invitation as well as Stanford (18-14), the defending NIT champion.
If Washington is invited to the NIT, it will play either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Teams can play up to five games. The first three rounds are held at campus sites, and the semifinals and finals are held in New York on April 2-4. ESPN televises every game on its various channels.
Washington has made six NIT appearances and has 6-6 record. Last year was the Huskies’ most successful run in the tourney.
They drew a top seed and beat UT Arlington, Northwestern and Oregon at home in the opening rounds. In the semifinals, they lost 68-67 in overtime to No. 6 seed Minnesota.
“If we’re invited to the NIT it gives our seniors some more games,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Last year we were in the NIT. I don’t know how excited our guys were at first, but after we won a couple it got pretty exciting for them.”