Date: Friday, 11/8/18
Tip-Off Time: 6:30 pm PT
(Yes, it overlaps with the UW-OSU football game. If you have DVR you can tape the start of the football game and switch over once this is done. If not, then you’ve got a decision to make.)
Radio: KVI 570
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Betting line: Washington +5
Baylor Bears 2018-19 (last season) Statistics:
Record: 20-14 (14-4)
Points For per Game: 71.8 ppg (168th)
Points Against per Game: 67.7 ppg (63rd)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 115.3 (20th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.8 (75th)
Strength of Schedule: 28th
2019-20 Game Results: 1-0 with a 105-61 home win over Central Arkansas
Baylor Key Players:
C- Tristan Clark, Jr. 6’9, 240: 14.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 73.7% FG, 66.7% FT
Clark recently checked in at #10 on ESPN’s list of the best players in the country. He was the most efficient big man in the country last year before suffering a knee injury a few games into conference play and missing the rest of the season. If he’s back and fully healthy then he gives Baylor a player who’s nearly automatic if he gets the ball close to the basket and is also an elite shot blocker/low post defender. He didn’t look like he was 100% though against Central Arkansas with just 3 points and 4 rebounds.
F- Freddie Gillespie, Sr. 6’9, 245: 5.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 65.2% FG, 53.1% FT
Before Clark got hurt Gillespie hardly saw the court but after he became an integral part of the rotation for Baylor. A former D-III player and walk-on at Baylor, he led the Big-12 in offensive rebounding rate in conference play and was also top-ten in block percentage, steal percentage, and FG% during that time. He doesn’t have much in the way of a true offensive game but Gillespie is the do all the little things big guy that every team wants to have.
F- Mark Vital, Jr. 6’5, 230: 7.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 46.4% FG, 18.2% 3pt, 52.9% FT
After Clark went down it fell to Vital to be the primary rebounder for the Bears and despite standing just 6’5 he was more than up for the job. Vital was 16th in the country in offensive rebounding rate which was unsurprisingly the best in the country for someone his height or shorter. He’s not nearly the scoring threat that Clark was and is an atrocious shooter so the Huskies want to keep him as far away from the basket as possible and hope he lets it fly.
G- Devonte Bandoo, Sr. 6’3, 195: 8.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 45% FG, 39.5% 3pt, 90.7% FT
Bandoo played his first two seasons at a junior college and is the sniper on this Baylor roster making 44% of his 3-pt attempts in conference play. He shot a ridiculous 56% on wide open catch and shoot attempts and a terrible 21% with a hand in his face. The Huskies can’t lose track of him in the zone and will likely shade someone to his side at all times.
G- Jared Butler, So. 6’3, 185: 10.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.7 apg, 39.5% FG, 35.1% 3pt, 79.4% FT
Butler forced his way into the starting lineup part way through the year as a true freshman as he shot 42% in Big-12 play from deep. His shooting splits when guarded or not are almost as extreme as Bandoo’s so having two guards able to nail wide open looks will put a lot of stress on the perimeter of Washington’s zone. He was 8/12 from deep against Central Arkansas for a team high 30 points. Butler mostly played shooting guard last year and struggled with turnovers which may be an issue as he is forced to play the point more often this season.
G- Davion Mitchell, So. 6’2, 195: 3.7 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, 42.9% FG, 28.8% 3pt, 67.7% FT
The above stats for Mitchell were as a freshman at Auburn playing behind Jared Harper and Bryce Brown. Mitchell decided he would rather transfer to Baylor and redshirted last season. He is the best man-to-man perimeter defender on this Bears roster and I’d expect to see him glued to Quade Green. Mitchell struggled with turnovers during his time at Auburn but he had 5 assists to 1 turnover in the opener against Central Arkansas for Baylor. The other negative for Mitchell is he isn’t nearly the quality shooter of the other Baylor guards.
G- MaCio Teague, Jr. 6’3, 195: 16.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 41.8% FG, 42.5% 3pt, 86.6% FT
Just like Mitchell above, Teague transferred and redshirted last season. Unlike Mitchell however, Teague was the lead guard at UNC-Asheville and averaged better than 15 points per game in both of his seasons there. He is an elite shooter who has shot almost 44% from deep on nearly 400 total attempts in his career. Teague isn’t much of a passer or driver but he’s generally been good at avoiding turnovers despite being the primary focus for defenses in his first two seasons.
It’s finally here and what a fantastic match-up to start the season. The Huskies take on a Baylor team that just like them is coming off a year where they exceeded expectations to earn a #9 seed in the NCAA tournament, won a game, and then fell to a #1 seed to end up just short of the Sweet 16.
Whereas the Huskies lost 5 of their top 6 scorers, the Bears brought back 3 of their top 6 plus return perhaps their best player who missed 2⁄3 of the season due to injury. It’s a versatile Baylor lineup that has a lot of different looks they can throw out you.
Going big? Baylor can mix and match Gillespie, Clark, and Vital who all had a defensive rebounding rate higher than every Husky from last year’s team except for Noah Dickerson. Going small? The Bears can easily go with a 4 guard lineup that includes 3 players that shot better than 42% from 3-pt range during their most recent stretch of conference play.
Traditionally the Bears have been known for their commitment to offensive rebounding. They’ve been in the top-10 nationally in offensive rebounding rate in each of the past 6 seasons despite varying personnel. They will throw bodies at the offensive glass to earn extra possessions and attempt for put backs. Washington was terrible at preventing 2nd chances on defense last year but that’s one of the natural weaknesses of the zone defense. With a much longer lineup for the Huskies this season the hope is that that won’t be nearly as much of a problem. And Baylor going all out for the offensive rebound could open up transition opportunities for a long Husky lineup that wants to push the pace.
The other key to the zone is 3-pt shooting and this is where Baylor again has a chance to punish the Washington defense. Last year when the Bears played Syracuse in the NCAA tournament they took almost 2⁄3 of their shots from behind the arc and made 47% of them. They also had 20 assists against 12 turnovers after barely having an assist to turnover ratio above one over the course of the season. This year’s Baylor team might be even better shooting with the addition of Teague and they were dynamic against Central Arkansas, making 18 of 33 3-pt attempts (54.5%). Washington’s defense is certainly better than Central Arkansas’s but it’s a legitimate concern for the Dawgs.
While the Bears were good on defense last season they definitely weren’t great. The Huskies will have a size advantage over Baylor on the wings and guys like Jaden McDaniels and Naz Carter will likely need big games if the Huskies are to prevail. Baylor in the past has played a lot of zone but they exclusively went with man-to-man against Central Arkansas. We’ll see if that is the plan for them this entire season or if they wanted to conserve that look for Washington when they knew they could handle Tuesday’s game without it.
Baylor plays a physical brand of basketball despite being undersized so how the refs call the game will play into things for sure. If Washington can use Baylor’s aggression against them then there’s a chance they can get the Bears’ bigs into foul trouble and Washington’s interior depth is one of the areas where they have a clear advantage over Baylor. However, the Huskies have to shoot better from the FT line than they did against Western or in Italy.
One of the primary intangibles in this game seems to work in Washington’s favor while the other goes against them. The game is being played in Anchorage, Alaska which means Baylor has to travel an extra 1,700 miles and adjust to 2 extra time zones. There will mostly be military personnel in the stands for the Armed Forces Classic but you would expect what non-service member fans there are to be rooting for the much closer nearby Huskies. Although Baylor traveled up on Tuesday so you would think their body clock will be adjusted.
The more important factor is likely that this Baylor squad has a lot more experience playing together. The Bears will be relying on 0 true freshmen and both transfers they brought in redshirted all of last year and have been practicing with the team. Baylor has a lot more players who have played in a big game like this on their roster than the Huskies do at the moment. Come March the result of this game might look different. But in the first game of the season it feels like a lot to ask of such a young but talented Washington team to beat a veteran team like Baylor. If the Dawgs do pull it off though it means we’re in store for one heck of a season.
Washington Huskies- 71, Baylor Bears- 78
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