Lots of folks were right around Washington’s final score last Saturday, but only a few could get a handle of how many points Stanford would muster in the Huskies’ 87-76 victory.
But of course we had a bigger winner in the Guess the UW Score contest and it’s a relative newcomer to the blog. So congratulations to it’s tea time! who predicted the Huskies would win 89-75. Good job.
Since you’re somewhat of a newbie here’s how things work. Contact me privately via e-mail, twitter or telephone to claim your prize which is a choice of a hot dog and soft drink at a UW game or promotional code to the UW men’s basketball app.
Okay, let’s move on.
Today’s games (all times Pacific).
Washington at Arizona State, 5:30 p.m.
Washington State at Arizona, 5:30 p.m. (FSN)
USC at California, 7:30 p.m.
UCLA at Stanford, 7:39 p.m. (FSN)
Picks: WSU, USC and Stanford
Record: 43-17 Pac-10, 108-39 overall.
AND THE UW-ASU WINNER IS …
The Huskies 70-62.
First a few words about the other games. Obviously I picked three upsets, which seems a bit improbable. Listening to the coaches on the Pac-10 teleconference call and reading the quotes this week, it feels as if teams with postseason aspirations are getting desperate and everyone realizes this weekend is huge.
Washington State knows it needs a very strong finish to stay in the Pac-10 title race and stay alive for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
USC has three straight wins when it plays on Thursday. Both the Trojans and Golden Bears have depth issues and Cal freshman Allen Crabbe (concussion) is questionable. If he doesn’t play, the Bears won’t win.
And UCLA has a five-game winning streak, but the Bruins are due for a loss. Stanford will keep the game close and I’m guessing the Cardinal makes a few more plays at home than UCLA, which goes on the road for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks.
The law of averages says the Huskies are also susceptible to an upset. Arizona State is struggling, but the chances of the Sun Devils losing every home game is rare.
At some point they’re going to put it all together and they’ll have a game when the three-pointers fall, they get the calls and the lucky breaks. The Huskies better hope that doesn’t happen tonight.
Despite UW’s 88-75 victory, coach Lorenzo Romar believes the Huskies’ midseason swoon began the last time it played Arizona State.
The Sun Devils were unusually efficient offensively in the first meeting against UW. They shot 50 percent from the field (26 of 52), 60 percent on three pointers (9 of 15) and 73.7 percent (14 of 19) at the line.
In some ways, the Sun Devils offense is much like Washington’s without senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning. They shoot three-pointers. They rarely get to the free throw line and they drive to the basket on occasion.
The Sun Devils spread the floor with three three-point shooters in Rihards Kuksiks, Ty Abbott and Jamelle McMillan. Kuksiks and Abbott have reputations for being deadly behind the arc, but McMillan has a better percentage than those two. McMillan is third in the Pac-10 with a 48.6 percentage (17 of 35) against conference teams.
Offensively the Sun Devils are limited. They’re last in the conference in scoring average (62.2). Part of the problem is ASU doesn’t have a player who can consistently create his own shot either with a dribble drive or in the post. The Sun Devils also don’t score many points in transition. They’re a jump shooting team that relies on crisp passing, high screens and perimeter shooting.
And when they miss, they don’t get the rebound. ASU is the worst rebounding team in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils are last in the conference with a minus 8.7 rebounding margin in league play.
Bryan-Amaning scored a career-best 30 points against ASU in the first meeting and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t duplicate that performance.
Look for the Sun Devils to pack their matchup zone even tighter in the middle and entice the Huskies into shooting three-pointers. It’s an enticing and dangerous gamble for Washington. If they take the treys and make them, this game is a blowout. If they miss, then it’s a different story.
Las Vegas says Washington is a 8 1/2-point favorite and that sounds about right to me.