LAS VEGAS — Washington State bowed out of the Pac-12 Tournament in the quarterfinals, but the Cougars have reason to believe their season will continue.
The Cougars (17-16), who had won seven straight before falling to Oregon 75-70 on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena, like their chances of qualifying for the NIT.
“We’ve played an incredibly tough non-conference schedule and I’d like to think with our NET we’ll be in good shape,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “Being the fifth-place team in a Power Five league — being the fifth-place team in a really good league — I think our chances are going to be good.”
The NIT bracket will be revealed on Sunday during the postseason qualifier show.
“We’re going to prepare as if we (are), for sure,” Smith said. “Hopefully we’ll find out where we’re going to play on Sunday.”
WSU was ranked No. 69 by the NCAA NET and No. 56 nationally by KenPom.com.
At the Barking Crow, the NIT’s bracketology site, the Cougars have been on the field since Thursday morning. According to Smith, NIT bracketologist John Templon “rates us as likely (qualifiers).”
“So we hope so,” Smith added.
According to KenPom, WSU has played the 28th toughest schedule in the nation. The Cougars have been competitive all season. They beat No. 8 Arizona in Tucson, tied seventh-ranked Baylor and fell by one point at home to No. 2 UCLA in a game WSU led for more than 35 minutes. The Cougars have wins over Oregon, KSU and Arizona State — ranked Nos. 47, 48 and 65, respectively, in the NET.
WSU compiled an 11-9 record in Pac-12 play for the second straight season. The Cougars also went 11-9 against conference opponents last season and earned an NIT bid after losing to UCLA in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
WSU defeated Santa Clara, SMU and BYU to earn a trip to Madison Square Garden. The Cougars lost to Texas A&M in the NIT semifinals.
“We had good success last year,” Smith said.