The Washington Huskies (12-8, 4-3) are not an easy team to figure out. Sports’ analysts had Washington in the top half of the Pac-12 and an NCAA tournament contender before the season began, but the Huskies have been too schizophrenic to predict, beating teams like Colorado, St. Louis and sweeping the Bay Area schools on the road, but losing to awful teams like Nevada, Alabany, Oregon State and Utah–and three of those bad losses were at home.
The best way to preview this unpredictable team, therefore, is to look at what Washington did well in their best Pac-12 wins (against Colorado and California) and what they didn’t do so well in their worst Pac-12 losses (Oregon State and Utah).
What Washington Did Well Against Colorado and Cal
Defend. Though Washington only shot 34% from the floor, they held Colorado’s shooting to only 36% from the floor and 10% from long range. On offense, the Huskies got more opportunities with five more offensive rebounds than the Buffs and nine more attempts at the free throw line. Additionally, Washington’s top scorer, C.J. Wilcox, was on fire–he had 25 points (57% from the floor and 50% from distance).
Interestingly enough, Washington’s convincing win against California bears strikingly similar results. The Huskies could only shoot 37%, but held Cal to 37% as well and just 18% from the three point line. The Huskies had nine more offensive rebounds than the Golden Bears and C.J. Wilcox was hot again, taking in 19 points.
What Washington Did Not So Well Against Oregon State and Utah
Well, it looks like we have found a pattern. Against both Oregon State and Utah, Wilcox averaged 18 points and the Huskies outrebounded their opponents (on offense too), so Washington’s offense does not appear to be the problem. In fact, the Huskies shot better in their losses against the Beavers and Utes (47% and 37%) than they did in their wins against Colorado and Cal.
But then we look at the defense. Utah shot 60% from the floor, 30% from distance, and had 11 more attempts than Washington at the free throw line. Oregon State shot 47% from the field, 32% from distance and had 12 more attempts at the free throw line.
If we look a little deeper, Washington’s defense against the big men also made a difference. In their victories over Colorado and Cal, the Huskies limited their opponents’ top two big men starters to an average of just 9 points per player and 49% shooting. Against Utah and Oregon States’ top two big men, however, Washington gave up an average of 16 points per player and 65% shooting.
What this means
It wouldn’t hurt for Arizona’s guards to shoot well from the three point line, but it appears that Washington can be vulnerable defending the paint. The Wildcats should take plenty of opportunities to drive to the bucket and force the Huskies to defend it or foul. Looking at Washington’s numbers against big men, it might also be wise for Arizona to get the ball to the likes of Tarczewski, Ashley, Jerrett and Hill. If Arizona’s big men can’t take care of the ball underneath the basket, this game will be interesting.