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November 14, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Guess the UW Score: UC Irvine

NOTE: Sorry for the delay. The blogs were down for a few hours.

What a way to start the Guess the UW Score season. Nice predictions folks.

Perhaps you were inspired by my near perfect prediction. I picked Washington to beat Seattle University 88-80 and the Huskies claimed an 88-78 win in the season opener.

I had a pretty good forecast on the game, but two predictions were better.

MukilteoDawg had UW winning 88-77 and justinholidaycanplay picked an 89-78 Huskies victory.

Congratulation guys on the season’s first win. Contact me via email: pallen@seattletimes.com or Twitter to claim your prizes.

And for the newbies, here’s how the GTUWS game works. You post your predictions in the comments section on this thread. The closest to the final score wins a hot dog and soft drink at a UW home men’s basketball game on me. It’s that simple.

Got it? Good. Let’s move on.

THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE:

No. 6 Arizona (2-0) at San Diego State (1-0), 7 p.m. …….. CBS Sports Network

Northwestern (1-0) at Stanford (1-1), 8 p.m. ………………… ESPNU

UC Irvine (0-2) at Washington (1-0). 8 p.m. …………………. Pac-12 Networks

Picks: Arizona and Stanford

Season tally: 17-5

AND THE UW-UC IRVINE WINNER IS …

The Huskies 82-70.

Not entirely sure what to make of Washington after its first game. The Huskies cobbled together a nice win over cross-town rival Seattle U, but that’s not the UW team we’re going to see going forward. Besides, Sunday’s win probably isn’t a game plan the Huskies can repeat very often with success.

They were pushed into scramble-mode due to Jernard Jarreau’s season-ending knee injury and the absence of Perris Blackwell (concussion). They used a four-guard lineup for extended periods and finished the final minute of the first half with five guards 6-6 and shorter on the floor.

Blackwell was going to play a key role this season, but without Jarreau the 6-9 forward from San Francisco is vital to the team’s long-term success. He’s a force inside and UC Irvine offers a stiff interior test. The Anteaters feature three 7-footers, including 7-6 freshman Mamadou Ndiaye. If he’s open down low, the Huskies would be wise to foul him because he’s made 4 of 15 on free throws this season (26.7%). He also shot 46.2% from the line as a senior at Brethren Christian High (73 for 158).

Ndiaye is also foul prone. He’s been disqualified from one game and had three fouls in the other.

In fact, several UC Irvine have had foul problems, including starting forward Will Davis II, who fouled out of a game, and starting point guard Alex Young, who had four fouls in both games.

If the game is a free-throw shooting contest, then Washington is the clear favorite. The Huskies are shooting 80.5 percent at the line and the Anteaters are 56.5.

UCI is led by 6-foot-5 senior guard Chris McNealy (21 points and 4.5 rebounds per game) and UW has several candidates to slow him down, including C.J. Wilcox and Mike Anderson. Young (18.5 ppg, and four assists per game) is also an offensive threat while Davis (11 ppg and 9.5 rpg) is more of a defensive specialist, who had a team-record 88 blocks last season.

The Anteaters are the last reasonably difficult test before Washington travels next week to the 2K Sports Classic at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Before leaving, they face Eastern Washington on Sunday, but tonight the Huskies can begin to find a formula that will have lasting success.

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