Pick with Analysis
This may be the most important week in terms of the Pac-12, mainly because it’s the toughest week for Washington. The Huskies have a three-Game lead in the Conference standings, but travel to Arizona for what should be a couple interesting Games. The first is against Arizona, a team that returns home following an ugly three-Game road trip that has the Wildcats losing Four of their last five. In fact, while they’re at home, they’ve already lost a couple home Games to Baylor and Oregon, barely scoring a combined 100 points in the process.
Washington has run through the Pac-12, already sweeping the dreaded high-altitude trip at Utah and Colorado. The Huskies have undoubtedly been impressive in Conference play and they also almost beat Gonzaga in non-Conference on the road. The main thing has been defense as they lead the Conference in numerous categories on that end of the cOurt. Their zone has been a major issue for all the mediocre teams in the Pac-12, namely their three-point defense that’s allowing just 29.2%. But on the other end of that the Huskies are also shooting an incredible 41.7% from deep and that’s an issue for the Wildcats, who haven’t guarded the three well with the second-worst number (39.4%).
The last time Arizona played a team with close to the same shooting numbers, it barely got past Utah, even at home. In that Game, the Utes shot 11-for-21 from three and in this Game, the Wildcats will be at a disadvantage on both ends of the cOurt.
Chase Jeter returned from a back injury last Game, but he still didn’t do much in 31 minutes. He’ll be needed on the offensive glass because that’s the main flaw in zone defenses and a place Arizona could have an edge. Jeter excels on the offensive glass, but Ira Lee and Ryan LUther can also be factors down low. The problem is that may be Arizona’s best offense because it doesn’t have the shooters to beat the zone with Justin Coleman (40.3%) the only one better than 37.1% from three. Oddly, Brandon Randolph and Brandon Williams shoot the most, but neither of them is above 33 percent, which is an issue. It also doesn’t help that Williams, the team’s third-leading scorer at 12.0 ppg, missed the last Game with a knee sprain. Either way, Arizona’s offense lacks consistency with the worst two-point field goal percentage in the Pac-12, and it won’t get many easy buckets in this Game.
The other end is where the Wildcats could have a chance since Noah Dickerson (12.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) left the last Game with an ankle injury and probably won’t be ready for this contest. His absence is a definite issue since his replacement is Sam Timmins, a guy that averages 11.4 minutes per Game. Timmins managed nine points and six boards in 24 minutes when Dickerson got hurt, but that was against UCLA. It’ll be up to guards Jaylen Nowell (16.6 ppg) and David Crisp (12.0 ppg) to step up and do a little more against a smaller Arizona backcOurt. That size advantage could be huge for Nowell, who is often UW’s best player. Of course, Matisse Thybulle and Nahziah Carter can also play bigger roles, but neither are as important offensively. The goal for Timmins will be to get defensive rebounds because that’s where Dickerson was key in the zone.
The absence of Dickerson leaves a definite hole in Washington’s lineup and that could come in useful for a struggling Arizona team. That said, the Wildcats could have trouble reaching 60 or even 50 points if they aren’t hitting shots against the zone. If that’s the case, the Huskies still have the edge on the road because their consistency is key, even without Dickerson.
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