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It's Huskies vs. Huskies this Saturday, as the two teams meet for the first time since UConn's thrilling victory over UW in a 2006 Sweet 16 matchup.
The last time these two teams played, Washington was up by four points with under 15 seconds to play, on the verge of making the Elite Eight in 2006. However, Mike Jensen fouled UConn's Marcus Williams, sending the guard to the free-throw line who cut UW's lead down to one point. Brandon Roy was subsequently fouled and sent to the free-throw line; he made two, putting UW back up by three. On the ensuing possession, UConn's Rashad Anderson nailed a 3-pointer, sending the game into overtime where UConn eventually won and advanced to an Elite Eight matchup against George Mason. Feel free to watch the horror on YouTube.
Obviously the two teams are different now, but a history lesson is mandatory if you consider yourself a Husky fan. There's also this other game that happened between these two teams in 1998, also a Sweet 16 matchup — not a good memory either.
Washington (8-4) at Connecticut (9-2)
Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012
Hartford, Conn. -- XL Center
4:30 p.m. PT
KJR 950 AM & 102.9 FM
- Record: 9-2
- RPI: No. 27
- Sagarin: No. 52
- Coach: Kevin Ollie (9-2, 1st season at UConn)
- Series: UConn 3-0 against Washington, last meeting 2006
This is a lame duck season for the east coast powerhouse as UConn is excluded from postseason play this year because of low APR scores from past years. Kevin Ollie is in his first year as UConn's head coach after Jim Calhoun retired this past off-season. This is the program's first new coach since 1986 and only the program's fourth different coach in the last 43 years. Though unranked, the Huskies have performed well with a solid victory over Michigan St. to open the season; the team's two losses have come against New Mexico and N.C. State.
The UConn Huskies are led by two underclassmen, freshman guard Omar Calhoun and sophomore guard Ryan Boatright. Calhoun earned Big East Rookie of the Week last week after leading his team to two victories, scoring 22 and 17 points respectively against Maryland Eastern Short and Fordham.
Boatright recorded career-highs of 26 points and 9 assists in UConn's win over Fordham. Completing UConn's potent backcourt is junior Shabazz Napier who is leading the team with a 16.8 scoring average.
Senior guard R.J. Evans and junior forward Niels Giffey provide support for the Huskies coming off the bench, both are averaging close to five points a game. Ollie will likely use forward Enosch Wolf a little more to match up against Aziz N'Diaye. Wolf, a seven-footer is averaging 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Last but not least, expect to see a huge dose of junior forward Tyler Olander and sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels. While Olander brings a wealth of experience to the team, Daniels has started all 11 games for the Huskies and is putting up 10.1 points per game along with leading the team with a 4.3 rebounding average.
This game could turn ugly really quickly for Washington. Romar's team has shown an inability to stop talented offensive perimeter players, and UConn has three solid ones who are each averaging over 10 points a game. Scott Suggs, Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox will have to step up their defensive performances if they want to keep this game close.
One way the Huskies can be competitive in this game is by dominating the glass, an aspect this team has struggled with at times this season. UConn has -6.4 rebounding margin this season while UW has had a +3.3 margin with Desmond Simmons grabbing 8.2 while N'Diaye is grabbing 9.7 rebounds per game. Even if UW is somehow able to control the boards and contain UConn's backcourt, I don't see them winning this game on the road. UW is 0-12 in true road games in the Eastern Time Zone since Romar took over as coach in 2003.
Prediction: UConn 72, Washington 65