Hype Music for the evening: "Dazed and Confused" by Led Zeppelin
0-5 is a rough way to start anything. It has certainly left me off-kilter, stumbling around dazed and confused, if you will. Hey, look, Zep has something named just like that! Of course, Led Zeppelin 'borrowed' the song from the original author, Jake Holmes. That Zep version, however, the closer of side one from their titular first album, is so iconic, so towering, that it's hard to come to grips with the fact that they ripped it off. Oh, well. Enjoy!
Tip-off from the ice-rink known as Hec Edundson Pavillion is set for 9pm MT this evening. Televised coverage can be found on ESPNU, with the radio call on 760 AM.
Click below for the preview...
When last we met -
Last February, in front of a nice home crowd (but essentially no students), the Colorado Buffaloes were facing an uphill battle against the Washington Huskies. Josh Scott, the superlative senior power forward, was still out with an ankle injury. Without him the team was facing the same UW bunch that cracked them by 12 points in the first meeting last season, and were just 38 hours removed from a double-overtime struggle with the worst team in the Pac-12. In that light, there were a lot of justifiably nervous faces in the stands just before tip; even yours truly was predicting doom. Then, the ball went up, and all that garbage faded away. From the opening seconds to the final horn, Colorado came to play, exhibiting gritty, intense basketball throughout. While the final ticks of the clock got a little nervy, with a number of mistakes putting the team on the verge of blowing a much-needed win, the Buffs held true, and walked away with a vital 81-80 victory.
|Wes Gordon was nasty under the glass. From: the BDC|
But, while the Buffs were lucky to watch Andrews' shot sail wide, they were not merely lucky to enter this one in the left-hand column. No, they earned this win through a foundation built on rebounds. Lots and lots of rebounds. Even without the great Scott, CU wrecked the Huskies on the boards, grabbing a total of 55 off the glass, 20 of which were offensive, to forge a +20 advantage in the rebounding battle. It was with activity, determination, and hustle that they proceeded to out-work their purple-clad opponents under the basket, fueling a number of key put-backs and second chances. Wes Gordon and George King lead the charge here, each in double figures for a combined total of 23.
|Turnovers nearly cost Colorado the win. From: Artesianews.com|
The Huskies in 2016-17 -
As stated in the intro, Washington is not a very good team. Sure, there's some great talent on the roster, and they can play electrifying basketball when on their game, but the total package just doesn't set right, like a soufflé ripped from the oven too soon. Sound familiar? I would hope so. While the how and the why behind the proceeding is different for UW than it is for CU, the final product is the same: a team that is somehow lesser than the sum of its parts. The Buffs, then, are facing a weird, twisted shadow of themselves this evening. How about them apples?
|Yale almost hung 100 on these guys. From: the Seattle Times|
Offensively, they're fine. Good defensive teams like Oregon and Cal have kept them quiet this season, but take those two results out, and UW is averaging over 84 points per on an adjusted 1.11 ppp. This is an upper-tier attack, one capable of knifing you up with quick trips (top-15 fastest offensive possessions in country) and attacks on the break (27% of shots taken in transition). While the Huskies can be an outstanding three point shooting team (shoot 40% as a team), they don't take a lot of their attempts from deep (less than 30% of all shots taken), which strikes me as bizarre. Instead, they take an inordinate amount of mid-range jumpers, making them an efficiency nightmare. The mid-to-outside shot disparity gives them a lot of opportunities to flex their strong offensive rebounding skills (top-25 nationally), but also earns them fewer points than they probably should be getting. Still, a productive unit, and one that will probably score in bunches against the Buffs.
|A win over a terrible OSU squad is all that separates UW from 0-5 status, as well. From: USA Today|
Star Players -
UW, of course, lost two star freshmen to the NBA draft after last season. Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss, both first rounders, played the one-and-done card, leaving the Huskies a little high and dry after a season spent building behind a whopping seven regular freshman contributors. In Seattle, though, they don't re-build, they reload with blue-chip talent. Enter: Markelle Fultz. A phenom of a lead guard from Maryland, Fultz came cross-country to wear purple for what projects to be his only season of college basketball.
|Fultz accounts for essentially half of UW's offensive production this year. From: Fansided.|
Markelle even has a pair of decent stalwarts at his side. David Crisp is a great point guard prospect in his own right, and the sophomore will be back to running the team once Fultz is moved on to bigger and brighter venues. A local product from Tacoma, Crisp is getting near 14 points per game, and hands out whatever assists Fultz is too busy to claim for himself. David has a nice jump shot, too, making him a deadly second option for Washington. I also like sophomore power forward Noah Dickerson. Athletic and capable, he's has double-double potential every start, and posts outstanding defensive rebounding rates to go along with his 11 points per game. He loves getting into passing lanes and collecting loose balls, as well. He could have a huge game this evening.
|Dickerson can pose a very difficult challenge in the paint. From: USA Today|
In the end, it's the Fultz show, co-starring Crisp, Dickerson, and ... others. If CU can keep a lid on the star freshman - a big if, mind you - they will have a much easier go of it.
Oh, Lorenzo Romar. The dean of the Pac-12 coaching fraternity. He's been in Seattle as long as I've been a CU basketball fanatic, first showing up on the Husky bench in 2002. This 8-9 start, though, could not have been what he was looking for in season 15 of his tenure. Washington has been utterly irrelevant since their 2012 league title, failing to finish with better than a 9-9 Pac-12 record in each and every one of the last four seasons, making this slumping campaign the latest in a trend, rather than an outlier.
|How many years does Lorenzo Romar have on the Husky bench? From: the News Tribune|
My record this year: 3-2. Against the spread: 2-3. Optimistic/pessimistic: CU +0.8 pt/gm)
Lines as of Tuesday @ 8pm - CU +1, O/U 157
I have no idea. Fultz will get his, that much I'm sure of. I also think Dickerson will have a big game, and UW will put up a bunch of points. Their defense, though, should not be that tough of a nut to crack without Dime lurking underneath, meaning Colorado should get their points, as well. It's an absolute toss-up, hence why the spread is only one point.
Since CU is the only team in this game with any track record of defending, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, but just barely.
CU 82 - UW 80
GO BUFFS! PROVE ME RIGHT, AND BEAT THE HUSKIES!