Programming alert: Live chat 6:30 p.m. today. I’m not in New York covering game so let’s get together and chat about what happens.
A few folks picked against the Huskies in the Guess the UW Score contest last week. Wonder if that trend will continue.
CORRECTION: 3:49 p.m.
I made a huge mistake and didn’t see the post from lghusky who predicted Nevada would upset Washington 76-72. Final score: 76-73 Nevada.
My apologies and congratulations.
Originally I awarded the win to Dawg_Analyst747 who guessed Washington would lose 78-72 and AnchorageDawg predicted a 77-75 Nevada stunner.
In lieu of the blunder, it’s hot dogs and soft drinks for each of you guys. Sorry for the confusion. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter to claim your rewards.
Okay let’s move. Only one game in the Pac-12 today and it’s a big one.
Washington (4-2) vs. No. 11 Marquette (7-0), 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
AND THE UW-MU WINNER IS …
The Golden Eagles 85-75.
Washington gets a chance to show its maturity on basketball’s biggest stage. The Huskies will need to focus on the task at hand and block out distractions. The game may draw celebrities such as Dwyane Wade, Marquette’s famous alum, and his NBA pals. Several of UW’s former players are also expected to be on hand.
None of that matters. And in many ways, the Huskies should be more concerned with themselves rather than the Golden Eagles.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said priority No. 1 for Washington is executing.
“It sounds simple,” he said. “It may sound like a straight-forward answer, but you come with all the schemes you want but if you don’t execute those schemes nothing is going to work. It’s not about what you’re doing, it’s how you’re doing it. And we just have to do a better job at what we’re doing.”
Romar stressed focus will be important if the Huskies are going to pull off the upset. Washington is an 8-point underdog, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.
“The thing that has been a challenge for us is to continue to try stay together and stick with what we’re doing offensively and remember what we’re doing offensively,” he said. “When I say that I don’t mean we necessarily forget all the time, but when there’s a lot of pressure or when someone gets physical with us we begin to get away from what we’re supposed to be doing offensively. So that will be a big challenge.”
Marquette is a vastly different team from the squad that lost 80-78 to Washington in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament.
Romar noted: “They’re just bigger and stronger than before.”
They’re also faster. Back then, MU coach Buzz Williams played a half-court oriented game, but the Golden Eagles are one of the fastest teams in the nation. That should help the Huskies who favor the an up-tempo pace.
It’s essential Washington defends the on-ball screens and keep the Golden Eagles out of the paint without fouling. MU is a tough-minded and gritty squad that’s killed teams with its ability to get to the free throw line. MU is outscoring opponents by an average of nearly nine points per game (19.4 – 10.6) from the line.
Washington also needs to shore up the three-point defense and identify the shooters. While Nevada shot 36.8 percent, the Wolf Pack’s top gunner Deonte Burton converted 4 of 6. Houston Baptist also shot 42.1 percent on treys, Saint Louis 42.9, Florida Atlantic 40.0 and Georgia State 40.0.
Marquette is an average three-point shooting squad connecting on 36.8 attempts. However, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder are each 14 of 33 (42.4 percent) from downtown.
Washington’s strength is the back court, but it will be challenged against Marquette’s three-guard lineup that includes point guard Junior Cadougan and off guard Vander Blue.
At the start of the week, Marquette ranked eight in the nation with 18.6 assists per game. MU is 11th nationally with a 1.46 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“We have to get back in transition because they are very, very good and explosive offensive team,” Romar said. “They push the ball up the floor really well.”
If the Huskies win, it will be the biggest victory since they destroyed No. 8 New Mexico 82-64 in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament.