It’s official. The Washington Huskies are in the NCAA tournament for the 1st time since the 2010-11 season. The Huskies received a #9 seed in the Midwest Region which means a 1st round showdown with the #8 seed Utah State Aggies. The game will take place on Friday in Columbus, Ohio at 3:50pm PT and will be televised on TBS. If Washington wins that game they would likely play #1 seed North Carolina.
Utah State finished the season 28-6 (15-3) out of the Mountain West conference where they finished 2nd in the regular season but won the MWC tournament by destroying Fresno State. The Aggies finished 3-2 in Q1 games this season with a split against Nevada, a loss to Houston, and wins over Saint Mary’s and UC Irvine. They were 2-3 in Q2 opportunities with a pair of wins against Fresno State and losses to BYU, Arizona State, and San Diego State.
In terms of the analytics, Utah State finished ranked 29th in the NET, 44th in BPI, 33rd in KenPom, and 45th in Sagarin. The Aggies are a very balanced team as they finished in the top-50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency although outside the top-30 in each. Their biggest strengths are on the interior on defense where they finished 5th nationally in defensive rebound percentage and 4th nationally in 2pt% defense. That suggests Noah Dickerson may have a tough time, which isn’t great considering his recent slump.
Utah State is also 6th nationally in assists per field goal made. This is a team with a ton of guys comfortable making passes and that don’t rely on isolation ball which generally spells trouble for Washington’s zone. That showed in practice as Utah State finished in the 79th percentile in points per possession against zones this season and actually had a higher PPP against zone than against man.
Of course, it’s doubtful they played a zone as good as Washington’s all season. Houston and Nevada are the only two teams that Utah State played all season with a top-50 mark in adjusted defensive efficiency where the Huskies ended up 20th despite their late season swoon.
The Huskies were 33rd in the seed list and Utah State was 32nd so we were in the exact middle of the bracket. In the committee’s eyes there was essentially no difference between the teams.
Stay tuned for more discussion about this game throughout the week.
You can go to Yahoo’s Tournament Challenge and join the group UW Dawg Pound to compete against your fellow Husky fans.
You can follow me @UWDP_maxvroom for all your UW Men’s Basketball news and notes