West is best for UW men

  • By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
  • Sunday, March 14, 2010 9:10pm
  • SportsSports

SEATTLE — The University of Washington men’s basketball team will be playing in the East Region but on the West Coast when the NCAA tournament begins Thursday.

And that’s just fine with the Huskies.

UW has an all-time record of 9-4 in NCAA tournament games played in this part of the country, including a 5-2 mark since losing to Kentucky in Salt Lake City in a first-round game of the 1985 tourney. When playing in the Pacific time zone, UW is 9-2 in NCAA games.

“It can’t hurt, that’s for sure,” Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar said of playing on the West Coast in this year’s tournament.

UW (24-9) will play Marquette in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday.

The Huskies were given an 11th seed in the East Region, while Marquette is a No. 6 seed.

Romar and the UW players did not have any complaints about their seeding or the location of this week’s game. The announcement was made by CBS television on Sunday afternoon, when a few hundred UW fans were with the team at a viewing party inside Husky Stadium.

“All that matters is that we got in,” junior guard Venoy Overton said.

The Huskies’ first opponent, Marquette, didn’t sound entirely too happy about having to play a Pac-10 team on the West Coast. Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams made reference to it several times during a Sunday night conference call with Seattle-area reporters.

“I definitely don’t think it’s an advantage,” he said of having to fly from Milwaukee to the Bay Area to face the Huskies. “… San Jose’s in Northern California, right? I just wanted to make sure it was as close to Washington as possible.”

Williams went on to tell reporters that he was “just joking with you guys” and added that he’s not going to complain about the site of Thursday’s opening-round game of the NCAA tournament.

“I haven’t earned enough equity in our business to do any sort of politicking,” he said. “We’re just thankful to be in the tournament.”

The Huskies were considered a bubble team before last week’s Pac-10 tournament. UW secured a spot in the NCAA field by beating Cal in the Pac-10 title game on Saturday afternoon.

Cal earned a No. 8 seed in the tournament and will face Louisville this week.

Gonzaga, which appeared likely to play its opening game in Spokane before losing to St. Mary’s in the championship game of the West Coast Conference tournament last week, will be headed to Buffalo, N.Y., as a No. 8 seed in the West Region.

The Huskies had a chance to play in Spokane, but they were just fine with their geographical destination of San Jose. It’s the third time UW will play an NCAA tournament game in California, having won two games in San Diego in 2006 and lost to Dayton in a 1984 Western Regional semifinal in Los Angeles.

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