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Preview and Open Thread: UW MBB takes on NWG and the Gonzaga Bulldogs

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He's back.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The rivalry is back on. After an appetizer in last year's Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, the Washington Huskies and the Gonzaga Bulldogs will square off for the first course of the main meal in the recently renewed home and home series.

Former Husky 5* point guard Nigel Williams-Goss and the Gonzaga Bulldogs come into this game, which will be hosted in Spokane, ranked #8 in the nation and featuring one of the deepest and most balanced teams in the nation.

Williams-Goss leads a trio of big guards that anchor the Bulldogs attack. He has the luxury of playing with one of the biggest and more skilled big men in the league with 7'-1" center Przemek Karnowski. Together, they have created one of the more deliberate and efficient overall teams in the league.

That said, it is hard to point to what it is that makes Gonzaga so effective and has led to their undefeated season - including wins over ranked ISU and Arizona. On the surface, it doesn't appear that they do any one thing all that well. They are not terribly athletic. They actually have a lower team shooting percentage than the Huskies. They aren't particularly accurate 3-point shooters. They are a good-not-great rebounding team.

To my eye - and I've only watched a little - I'd say that the Bulldogs are just a really tight team. They don't make a ton of mistakes, they play good team ball, and they go deep into their bench which, I think, really pays dividends against younger, more athletic teams.

The Huskies, who already struggle with team defense, are sure to have their hands full with the Bulldogs in Spokane. They will undoubtedly try to up the tempo against the Zags and leverage athleticism advantages that they appear to have with their young backcourt. It seems like a long shot, but an upset win could clearly change the trajectory of a season that has been slow to get going for Lorenzo Romar and his team.

This is your open game thread. Enjoy.