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With one and maybe two games remaining for Washington, dozens of posters are still in contention to win the grand prize in the Guess the UW Score contest.
Fatkids55 moved into position to capture the season title after claiming a victory last Tuesday. Washington beat Oregon 90-86 in the NIT quarterfinals and Fatkids55 predicted the Huskies would win 91-89.
Good job and congratulations.
Fatkids55 has two wins this season and slid into a six-man second-place tie with spot on, lghusky, kobedawg, huskylenz and justosu. Everyone trails justinholidaycanplay, who has three wins.
OK let’s move on. Big game so let’s get to it.
No. 3 Stanford (24-11) vs. No. 5 Massachusetts (25-11), 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 1 Washington (24-10) vs. No. 6 Minnesota (22-14), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
AND THE UW-MINNESOTA WINNER IS …
The Huskies 78-68.
Classic matchup between an offensively explosive team in the Huskies and a tough, gritty defensive-minded group in the Golden Gophers.
Despite the seeding, many believe Minnesota is playing better than any of the NIT semifinalists. The Gophers have been road warriors recently. They’ve spent the past month on the road and played the last five games away from home while posting a 4-1 record, including an overtime loss.
Minnesota went on the road in each NIT game and dominated La Salle (70-61), Miami (78-6) and Middle Tennessee State (78-72), in a quarterfinal that wasn’t as close as the score may indicate.
The Gophers aren’t flashy or particularly sexy. They grind out wins and grind away at opponents with a tough man-to-man defense that challenges shots and grabs defensive rebounds. Teams shoot 41.3 percent against Minnesota, which allows an average fo 64.4 points. The Gophers are 1-2 when they allow 80 points or more.
Washington and Minnesota have two common opponents this season.
The Gophers beat USC 55-40 at home. They also split games with Northwestern, winning 75-52 at home and losing 64-53 on the road.
Washington swept the Trojans 69-41 and 80-58 while throttling the Wildcats 76-55 in the NIT quarterfinals.
Minnesota is a team devoid of stars. Still, sophomore forward Rodney Williams leads in points (12.1), rebounds (5.5), blocks (1.4), steals (1.4) and minutes (31.9).
Washington has a multi-faceted attack. Terrence Ross (16.3) leads in points, Aziz N’Diaye (7.3) has the most rebounds, Abdul Gaddy (5.2) is tops in assists, Tony Wroten Jr. (1.6) leads in steals and C.J. Wilcox (.411) has the highest three-point shooting percentage.
Minnesota coach Tubby Smith likened Washington to Ohio State because the Huskies are versatile and seemingly UW has too many weapons for the Gophers.
If the Huskies can control Williams and freshman guard Austin Hollins, then it’s unlikely Minnesota will be able to generate enough points to keep pace.
Still the big question is whether Washington can play at Madison Square Garden as well as it has the past two weeks at Edmundson Pavilion. In their last two road games, the Huskies lost 75-69 at UCLA and 86-84 to Oregon State in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.
The last time at MSG, Washington lost 79-77 to Marquette and 86-80 to Duke.
Quite frankly Minnesota is not the same caliber as Marquette and Duke and if the Huskies can duplicate its effort from those November defeats, then they’ll move on to the NIT title game Thursday.