The big 4-0? Six squads have blazed upset trail in conference tournaments
win four, and you'll be dancing next week. That is the assignment for the Washington Huskies, who play a first-round Pac-10 tournament game...
Seattle Times staff
The task is very clear — win four, and you'll be dancing next week.
That is the assignment for the Washington Huskies, who play a first-round Pac-10 tournament game tonight against Arizona State. The Huskies are seeded No. 7 and no doubt must win four games to earn a slot in the 65-team NCAA tournament.
The Huskies, shooting for their fourth straight NCAA appearance, will try to become just the 11th team to win a conference tournament (of 610 tournaments since 1985) after finishing seventh or worse in their conference regular season since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
A look at the six teams who have won four games in a conference tournament the past five years:
Conference: Atlantic 10
Conference finish: 8-8, tied for seventh (seeded No. 10)
A tough way to advance
Winning four games in a conference tournament (since 2002):
6 Times accomplished
11 Winning first three and losing championship
526 Number of teams having a chance
Comment: The Musketeers nipped fifth-seeded St. Joseph's 62-61 when Justin Doellman made two free throws with five seconds left to win the tournament. Xavier beat No. 2-seed Charlotte 59-55 in the quarterfinals. The A-10 champ lost to Gonzaga, 79-75, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Conference: Big East
Conference finish: 7-9, tied for ninth (seeded No. 9)
Comment: The only school to finish worse than fifth in Big East play and have a losing conference record to win the tournament. Gerry McNamara helped Syracuse win games by one (twice), two (OT) and four points. Syracuse was immediately ousted from the NCAAs by Texas A&M, 66-58.
Conference finish: 10-8, tied for fifth (seeded No. 6)
Comment: Knocked off defending champion and No. 1 seed Delaware State (60-56) to advance to the NCAA tournament, where they lost the play-in game to Monmouth (71-49).
Ohio U. (2005)
Conference finish: 11-7, tied for second (seeded No. 4)
Comment: Leon Williams made a layup just before the buzzer as the Bobcats rallied from 19 points behind in the second half to beat No. 7 seed Buffalo in the championship game, 80-79 in overtime. Ohio lost in the NCAA first round to Florida, 67-62.
Conference: Atlantic 10
Conference finish: 10-6, tied for third (seeded West Division No. 4)
Comment: Demolished undefeated St. Joseph's (27-0, 16-0) by 20 points in the quarterfinal round. Three of their four wins were by at least 20 points and they beat West Division No. 1 seed Dayton 58-49 in the championship. Xavier won three games in the NCAA tournament before falling to Duke by three points in an Elite 8 matchup.
Conference: Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference finish: 9-9, tied for sixth (seeded No. 7)
Comment: Handled No. 4 seed Niagara by 15 in the championship game after beating up on Fairfield by 20 in the semifinals. Maryland eliminated the Saints 85-70 in the first round of the NCAA.
Teams who made conference title game but lost
Toledo (Mid-American, 2006), South Carolina (SEC, 2006), St. Peter's (Metro Atlantic Athletic, 2006), West Virginia (Big East, 2005), Memphis (Conference USA, 2005), Boise State (WAC, 2005), Buffalo (Mid-American, 2005), Missouri (Big 12, 2003), UAB (Conference USA, 2003), Iowa (Big Ten, 2002) and Furman (Southern, 2002).