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September 5, 2012

Dawgs will be tested outside Pac-12




Washington's 2012-13 basketball team doesn't have a schedule that's going to rank among the nation's toughest. It just doesn't. And much of that is because the Pac-12, frankly, hasn't lived up to its billing as one of the Big Six, or "power conferences," if you will.

But that doesn't mean the Dawgs won't face some stiff competition this year.

Of course, everyone knows that UCLA is expected to return to prominence this year. Expectations tend to rise when you bring in guys like Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker. Arizona will be expected to improve.

And the rest of the league should be improved for the most part.

But there are some out of conference tilts that should present some intriguing matchups, and some games that should test the Dawgs heading into Pac-12 play.

November 11, vs. Loyola (Md.)

November 13, vs. Albany

November 17, vs. Seton Hall (Uncasville, Conn.)

November 18, vs. Ohio State/Rhode Island (Uncasville, Conn.)

November 24, vs. Colorado State

November 28, vs. Saint Louis

December 2, vs. Cal State Fullerton

December 8, vs. Nevada

December 13, vs. Seattle U (Key Arena)

December 15, vs. Jackson State

December 20, vs. Cal Poly

December 22, vs. Northern Illinois

December 29, vs. UConn (Storrs or Hartford, Conn., TBD)


Let's just go ahead and say it: There are about eight games listed above that would cause serious hand-wringing and concern if the Huskies were to lose. But almost every school's schedule has games like that.

There are also going to be several tests.

Let's start out with the Seton Hall game. The Pirates were 21-13 overall last year, and there 8-11 conference mark doesn't look all that bad considering they played in the rugged Big East. However, they do have to replace their two leading scorers and will have to rely somewhat on what should be a solid freshman class.

If the Dawgs win that one and Ohio State tops Rhode Island, UW would really be tested by the Buckeyes, who return Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas and others. While Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky seem to be getting most of the pub nationally, the Buckeyes will once again be national championship contenders.

Colorado State will put a team on the floor with some experience and they reached the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament last season. They will also be coached by former Iowa State head man Larry Eustachy.

And just four days later Saint Louis will come to American Airlines Arena with what could be one of the better teams the Huskies see all year. The Billikens will almost certainly have a preseason Top 25 team. Last year they were 26-9 (13-3), and won two games in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Michigan State by just four.

However, health issues have forced head coach Rick Majerus out of action for at least this season.

Nevada is coming off a 28-7 season capped by a nice NIT run.

Perhaps the most anticipated non-conference game (only if the Huskies miss Ohio State) will be at UConn, the program that has won three national championships since 1999. UConn was one of the nation's three most heralded teams in the nation before the start of last season, along with Kentucky and North Carolina, but they never lived up to expectations.

This year expectations are much lower, but winning on their home court won't be easy.

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