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December 10, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Pac-10 Picks … including the Washington game

It’s an afternoon Washington tip off tomorrow so let’s get an early start on the predictions.
I’d like to report we had a three-way tie between SarkAttack, dawgpound99 and mathgeek99 in the previous Guess the UW Score contest. They all came within three points of Washington’s 94-72 win over Portland on Monday.
But there was one prediction that was slightly better … mine. How about that? For the first time since we started this last season, I came closer than anyone else. It was bound to happen. Blind luck. Honestly, I thought my 94-70 prediction was a little low. Apparently not.
Despite the win, I’m doling out the prizes to the three runner-ups. Congratulations everyone.
Also, we’ve got another prize for those who can’t make it to the games for the hot dog and soft drink. We’re also giving away a promotional coupon for the 2010-11 Husky basketball app as an alternative. So e-mail, tweet, phone or text me privately and let me know which prize you’d like.
Okay, let’s move on to the games.
Friday’s game: (Times are local to site)
Washington State vs. Pan American, 7 p.m.
Saturday’s games:
Gardner-Webb at Arizona State, noon
Northern Arizona at USC, 1 p.m.
Willamette at Oregon, 2 p.m.
Washington at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m.
Arizona at No. 18 BYU, 4 p.m.
Cal Poly at UCLA, 5 p.m.
Picks: WSU, ASU, USC, Oregon, BYU, UCLA
Record:
46-18
AND THE UW-TEXAS A&M WINNER IS …


Huskies 82-74.
You can overanalyze this game.
On paper, A&M looks formidable. Good record (8-1). Good Sagarin and Pomeroy ratings, which is No. 38 and 37 respectively. Good defense, which ranks ninth allowing 55.3 points per game. The Aggies are a very good rebounding team, which has been the Huskies’ biggest weakness. Texas A&M ranks second nationally in rebounding margin (+13.1) and has out-rebounded every opponent this season.
And the Aggies are terrific at home where they have a 69-game non-conference, regular-season home winning streak.
Many signs indicate Washington loses Saturday, which wouldn’t be much of an upset. The Huskies are favored by just two points.
I was going to pick the upset until I spoke with a veteran UW observer who said simply: “A&M isn’t as good as they were last year and Washington is better.”
That did it for me.
Granted I’ve only seen the Aggies only a few minutes against Boston College and Temple, but they’re not the team that lost 73-64 to Washington last year at Hec Ed. That team had three outstanding seniors, who were also the three leading scorers. This team has a bunch of role players and no distinguishable stars. At least not yet. And tragically, the Aggies lost their best incoming freshman Tobi Oyedeji, who died this summer in a car accident.
This is when going to the Maui Invitational should pay off for Washington. Texas A&M is good, but the Aggies are no where near as good as Kentucky and Michigan State.
And if we can agree on that, then it comes down to Washington keeping its composure in an hostile environment. Conceivably, a veteran Washington team should be able to go on the road and not get rattled in place like College Station, Texas.
Of course there’s X-factors, wild cards and unknown variables that play into any outcome.
For instance, what happens if UW connects on 2 of 12 three-pointers like it did in last year’s game against A&M? The Huskies compensated and connected on 23 of 31 free throws, however, in four wins at Stanford, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon last season UW attempted an average of 19 FTs. The point is, you can’t expect to live at the line on the road. Besides, the Huskies are shooting 62.0 percent at the charity stripe.
Who is going to rebound for Washington? A year ago, departed star Quincy Pondexter collected 13 boards and UW won the rebounding battle 55-45. Well, the tables are turned this season. Not sure if a UW player can control the glass like Pondexter did and coach Lorenzo Romar admitted this week he’s concerned about giving up too many second-chance attempts.
And what’s wrong with UW in the second half? Maybe it’s a byproduct of the blowout wins, but the Huskies are allowing an average of 40.3 points in the second half, which is nine more than the first half. Even if you throw out the lopsided victories, the Huskies didn’t finish or execute properly in the final minutes against Kentucky and MSU. Washington has led at halftime in every game this season. They start quick, but have a tendency to fade late in games.
Those are major concerns, which should not be ignored. Still in the final analysis, Washington has more talent and more returning firepower statistically than Texas A&M.
That’s why I’m picking the Huskies.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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