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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

March 20, 2011 at 1:21 AM

Picking the UW-North Carolina game

Early start time on the West Coast so hopefully we’ll get some comments on this late-night post.
Before we get to today’s big game, let’s recap Saturday’s Guess the UW Score contest. Washington beat Georgia 68-65 and 80HourEnergy became the seventh multiple winner with a 69-65 prediction. Congratulations.
This could be the last game in the contest and I’ll admit I’m rooting for one of the double winners to post a victory and claim the season title outright.
Here’s a list of leaders: 80HourEnergy, scgotts, musca, mjlaw, wayupwaydown, UMontW and dawgpound99.
C’mon guys, I’m pulling for you.
Okay, let’s get to today’s game (time Pacific).
No. 7 Washington vs. No. 2 North Carolina, 9:15 a.m. (CBS)
Record: 129-56.

Washington 88-87.
I’m ignoring logic, statistics and the Las Vegas odds makers and picking an upset. That’s what the NCAA tournament is all about, right? You got to pick a few upsets and when the brackets were announced last Sunday I had the Huskies advancing to the Sweet 16 to meet Marquette in a rematch of last year’s tournament opener.
Got to admit, I felt better about this pick a week ago than I did Friday while watching North Carolina destroy Long Island. Washington struggled against Georgia, but if LIU can score 87 points against the Tar Heeels, then the Huskies should be able to do the same.
Coach Lorenzo Romar and coach Roy Williams as well as the players for both teams believe this will be a high-scoring game.
Washington averages 83.5 points per game and North Carolina averages 77.4.
Tar Heels forwards Tyler Zeller (32 points), John Henson (28) and Harrison Barnes (24) combined to score 84 points Friday. I suspect Washington will provide more resistance than LIU’s three-guard lineup.
I can’t imagine the UNC trio will have that type of performance ever again. If the Huskies can contain just one of them, they’ll have a good chance to win. Zeller and Henson are great defensive players, but offensively they’re limited if they’re not under the rim.
However, Barnes is the real deal. He can do a little bit of everything. And his confidence is growing. He can score off the dribble. He’ll run around screens to catch and shoot. And he’s developing low-post moves on the block.
North Carolina guards aren’t scorers. Kendall Marshall has the ability to get into the lane and he’s a good distributor. He had 16 assists this season against Florida State and Friday he dished out 10.
The Huskies don’t have to be spectacular, but they must control the glass. It’s essential to limit North Carolina’s second-chance points and to push the ball at every opportunity.
Washington also needs a few guys who have been struggling to turn things around.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning hasn’t scored in double figures in the past three games and he’s been in four trouble in the past four games. That’s got to change. He’ll likely get double teamed again today because opponents are leaving Aziz N’Diaye to take the ball out of Bryan-Amaning’s hands. Bryan-Amaning has to be aggressive offensively, make good decisions, avoid turnovers and stay out of foul trouble.
The same goes for Justin Holiday. He’ll have his hands full with Barnes. Still he has more experience and can use his wits to give the freshman fits on the offensive end. Holiday hasn’t made a three-pointer in the past five days. He’s best these days when he catches the ball in the middle of the floor and attacks the rim.
Either C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs or Terrence Ross will need a good shooting performance. If the Huskies can get of them to get hot, they’ll have a chance. If it’s two, they’ll win a close game. If it’s three, it could be a rout.
And most importantly, Isaiah Thomas has to pick his spots offensively. He’s a streaky shooter, but he’s got to consistently create scoring opportunities for everybody else. Ross is the only other player who can create his own shot.
Williams said no other player on the floor will have a great impact than Thomas. The UW guard doesn’t have to score a lot of points. Nor does he have to have a ton of assists. But if he scores more than 20 points or has at least 10 assists, then the Huskies will have a chance. If he can do both, Washington should win.
In many ways the pressure is off the Huskies. They’re a 4-point underdog and very few people outside Seattle expect them to upset seventh-ranked North Carolina in the Tar Heels’ backyard.
Maybe Bryan-Amaning put it best when he said: “We have nothing to lose. We can go out and just play our game. That’s a free feeling. There’s no better feeling to have. Now we can go out and play the best game of our lives.”

Comments | Topics: C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs


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