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Pac-12 Semifinal: #5 Colorado vs. #1 Washington Open Thread

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Washington will look to complete a 3-game season sweep of the Buffs to earn a trip to the Pac-12 final

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-Colorado vs Oregon State Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Friday, 3/15/19

Tip-Off Time: 6:00 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Network

Streaming: Pac-12.com/live

Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Betting Line: Washington -2.5

Colorado 2018-19 Statistics:

Record: 21-11 (10-8)

Points For per Game: 74.4 (106th)

Points Against per Game: 67.9 (72nd)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 106.5 (129th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.6 (47th)

Strength of Schedule: +1.69 (103rd)

Colorado Key Players:

F-Lucas Siewert, Jr. 6’10, 230: 9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 51.2% FG, 35.3% 3pt, 78% FT

Siewert is still Colorado’s best shooter as a stretch 5 but he has really struggled with his shot in conference play. He made 45% of his 3’s last season and had made 45% when the two teams faced off last month but he’s now shooting just 30% from deep in conference play. The Huskies have done a good job limiting him as he’s shooting just 6/15 against UW with 0 3’s so far in 2 games.

F- Tyler Bey, So. 6’7, 225: 13.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 55.1% FG, 22.7% 3pt, 75.9% FT

Jamal’s cousin is phenomenal and has killed the Huskies with 35 points and 20 rebounds in the 2 UW games combined. He’s the best defensive rebounder in the country and whoever can draw more fouls on the other between Noah Dickerson and Bey will give their team a huge advantage.

F- D’Shawn Schwartz, So. 6’7, 226: 8.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 43.8% FG, 30.4% 3pt, 80.6% FT

Schwartz kept Colorado in the 1st UW game almost by himself as he is a 25.5% 3pt shooter in conference play against everyone else but was 4 of 5 from deep that night and finished with a team high 22 points. You can be sure that the Huskies will pay a little bit more attention to him even though that performance was his career high and 6 more than his second highest career total.

G- Shane Gatling, Jr. 6’2, 181: 10.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 37.1% FG, 32.7% 3pt, 83.1% FT

Gatling has been a pest on defense with 7 steals in the 2 games against UW but he has really struggled on offense shooting the ball. Almost 2/3rds of his shots have come from behind the arc and he’s Colorado’s highest volume 3-pt specialist.

G- McKinley Wright IV, So. 6’0, 195: 13.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.8 apg, 51.2% FG, 35.3% 3pt, 78% FT

Wright is the heart and soul of Colorado’s team and it was a big loss when he got hurt in the 1st half during the first meeting. He’ll need offseason shoulder surgery to repair the damage but is playing through it for now and playing well. He shot just 20.4% from 3-pt range in conference play during his freshman season but has stepped things up and is now hitting 38.8% from beyond the arc in Pac-12 play this year. If he becomes a legitimate 3-pt threat then he’s infinitely more difficult to contain.

2018-19 Colorado Shot Chart

Normally when you hear about a team being strong up the middle you think about baseball or football but there’s no other way to describe the Colorado shot chart. They’re good at hitting the baseline jumper on the right side but other than that Colorado is below average anywhere else to the sides of the court. Stop penetration and defend Wright/Siewert/Gatling behind the arc in the middle of the court. Easy.

Synergy Sports

2018-19 Colorado Shot Chart Against UW

Here’s a new one for you. Since we have 2 games of data I think it’s worth it to look at the combined shot chart just against UW. The Buffs have been able to feast in the paint and done well from behind the 3-point arc on the left side of the court but otherwise the Washington defense has really given them problems.

Synergy Sports

The Outlook

The Huskies got a much needed win over USC and now they are considered a lock by essentially every bracketologist on the planet. But this Washington team wants to rediscover their swagger before heading off to the NCAA tournament and will be fighting to add Pac-12 tournament title to their resume.

Colorado has become the hottest team in the conference ever since the Huskies beat them at home by a score of 64-55 at the end of February. The Buffaloes have won 5 straight although none of those have been a true road game. They narrowly squeaked out a win against Cal on Wednesday after committing 23 turnovers then blew out Oregon State on Thursday afternoon.

One of the benefits of running the 2-3 zone is that come tournament time it’s difficult to prepare for on short notice. Colorado has played against it twice this season so it won’t exactly be a mystery but the tournament format still could have an impact on this one. The Buffs had little trouble with Oregon State but they’ll be playing their 3rd game in 3 days against Washington. If any team has adequate stamina to withstand that you’d think it’s the team that plays their home games in Boulder but tired legs could still be a factor.

There’s a reason though why the Huskies have yet to lose to Colorado under Coach Hopkins though. The Buffs are not a good shooting team and were barely ahead of Stanford to avoid having the worst 3-pt % in conference play. Colorado has hit 10 3-pointers combined in their first two meetings with Washington. The Huskies gave up 12 yesterday against USC alone. That isn’t going to happen unless Colorado’s having an out of body experience.

Where they can really hurt the Huskies is on the offensive glass. Colorado had a combined 23 offensive rebounds in those 2 contests and in particular dominated on the boards in the game in Seattle. Tyler Bey will have multiple putback dunks and that’s something that Washington fans are going to have to live with. The Buffs have averaged more than 15 turnovers per game against Washington and the Huskies can survive a deficit in second chance points if they make it up in points off turnovers.

The Colorado defense has been the primary key to their resurgence though as no opponent has topped 70 points against them in their past 6 games. Tyler Bey and the rest of the Colorado bigs do a great job of preventing offensive rebounds even if they aren’t always the most efficient at limiting a good look on the first attempt.

Washington hasn’t won a game in regulation by more than 3 points since they last played Colorado at home. That isn’t a particularly encouraging truth. Every game from here on out is going to be tough for Washington but I think Colorado is a good match-up for Washington (certainly better than Oregon State). It wouldn’t be shocking in the slightest if the Huskies were to lose this game but at least for one more game I think they keep it going.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 68, Colorado Buffaloes- 66

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