Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has of this moment Washington making the NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed and facing No. 9 Syracuse in the first round of the West Bracket at Salt Lake City.

If that happens, it would be the story of the year because it pits Washington coach Mike Hopkins against Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who he played for and spent another 22 years as his assistant. Hopkins was ticketed to replace Boeheim, who was supposed to retire two years ago but then didn’t. So Hopkins accepted the challenge of rebuilding the Washington program, and has done that quicker than anybody imagined.

There is also a qualifier to Lunardi’s prediction. Washington probably needs to win its two remaining games and maybe even its first game in the Pac-12 Tournament to make it to Salt Lake.

Even though the Huskies (23-6, 14-2) have already captured the  Pac-12 regular season title, that is not as important as you might think because the conference this year is the weakest of the five major conferences, and weaker by a lot. In fact, Lunardi has only one other Pac-12 team in the tournament. That would be Arizona State as an 11 seed facing 6 seed Nevada in a first round game in the South Bracket at Tulsa.

Lunardi does not do Washington any favors. He has the Huskies if they win their first game against Syracuse facing most likely top-ranked Gonzaga in the second round. Yes, I know the Huskies nearly upset Gonzaga in Spokane, scoring 49 points in the second half and losing on a last second shot, 81-79. I don’t really think the Huskies can repeat that feat.

If the Huskies stumble in their next  three games they could wind up in one of the play-in games for even out of the tournament as they did in 2012 when they were co-champions with Stanford during the regular season and wound up going to the NIT.

The first game of the three happens tonight at 7 p.m. at home against Oregon State. The Huskies are 14-0 this season at home, but the Beavers are a tough match-up. Washington did win at Oregon State 79-69 earlier in the season.

Washington closes out the regular season at home Saturday (also 7 p.m.) against Oregon and then opens the Pac-12 Tournament at noon on March 14 in a quarterfinal game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Huskies play either the No. 8 or 9 seed team.

No matter what happens, the Huskies have had an incredible season, one nobody thought was possible. It’s been fun watching 6-5 senior forward Matisse Thybulle play. He is an unbelievable defender, perhaps the best in the country and appears to be a safe bet to play in the NBA next season.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.