Date: Saturday, 1/25/20
Tip-Off Time: 6:00 pm PT (note that every game on FS1 has tipped off 15 minutes after schedule so don’t be surprised if this is actually a 6:15 start)
Radio: KOMO 1000
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Betting line: Washington +8
Colorado 2019-20 Statistics:
Record: 15-4 (4-2)
Points For per Game: 71.9 ppg (133rd)
Points Against per Game: 61.7 ppg (23rd)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 107.5 (65th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 89.5 (17th)
Strength of Schedule: 53rd overall
Colorado Key Players:
C- Evan Battey, So. 6’8, 262: 9.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 53.6% FG, 68.8% FT
Battey is an absolute load in the post and is a tremendous offensive rebounder which could kill the Huskies. He’s been one of the best players in the country at drawing contact with his tremendous strength and it will be a fascinating battle inside with him against Isaiah Stewart.
F- Tyler Bey, Jr. 6’7, 216: 13.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 52.5% FG, 47.1% 3pt, 76.6% FT
Bey is one of the best defensive players in the country and a Jon Brockman-esque level rebounder. He only takes about one three-pointer per game but has shown this year he can knock it down if left wide open on the perimeter. He averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds in his 3 games against Washington last year and expect more of the same this time around. Bey sat out Thursday night’s game but is expected to be 100% against Washington.
F- D’Shawn Schwartz, Jr. 6’7, 232: 10.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.3 apg, 42.2% FG, 40.9% 3pt, 68.2% FT
Schwartz is the solid role player wing that every team loves to have. He’s hitting a career best percentage from deep and isn’t a great finisher near the rim so the Huskies should play the perimeter shot first. His rebounding isn’t great for someone who’s 6’7 but it’s more understandable considering how much time he spends playing near the 3-pt line.
G- Shane Gatling Sr. 6’2, 182: 6.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 34.2% FG, 30.4% 3pt, 79.2% FT
Gatling is a 3-pt specialist who isn’t all that good of a 3-pt shooter which isn’t a great combination. He’s also Dominic Green/Hameir Wright levels bad trying to finish at the rim so Washington will live with it if he gets the ball near the basket. He does grade out as their best perimeter defender which is necessary since he’s a minus on offense.
G- McKinley Wright, Jr. 6’0, 196: 13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 44.3% FG, 35.2% 3pt, 75.0% FT
Wright got off to a bit of a slow start this season as the second member of Colorado’s two-headed monster along with Tyler Bey but has picked things up in conference play. He’s shooting 41% from 3 in those 6 games while averaging nearly 8 assists per game. Washington has to get him to turn over the ball repeatedly to win this game.
2019-20 Colorado Shot Chart
Considering the interior talent Colorado has I was expecting them to be a little better at finishing around the rim. Taking a midrange shot is inefficient no matter what but the Buffs have shot it well enough from that range that they might be able to soften up the center of UW’s zone with a few makes.
Washington is going to get out to a 12 point lead with about 6 minutes left and then give up a buzzer beating 4-point play by McKinley Wright after a ref accidentally runs into Marcus Tsohonis, shoving him into the shooter and causing the foul. Oh, you need more analysis than that?
Colorado is this season what Washington was last year. They’re incredibly deep and led by a veteran core of stars. The Buffs are number 1 in the country in minutes continuity as they returned essentially their entire team from a season ago when they made the NIT. The big difference between the two teams is that Colorado was able to get a signature win out of conference over top-5 Dayton which should propel them to a 5 seed or better in the NCAA tournament.
Tad Boyle loves himself a team full of versatile 6’6-6’8 forwards who can rebound the ball and that’s certainly what he has. It all starts with Tyler Bey who is my pick for Pac-12 defensive player of the year and is a ferocious rebounder. The combination of Bey plus Battey on the interior have been extremely effective shutting down opposing scorers while cleaning up on the glass. It’s not what Husky fans want to hear but Colorado is as well equipped to go up against Isaiah Stewart as anyone.
Teams don’t shoot a lot of 3’s against Colorado as they funnel teams into the paint and rely on their interior defenders to clean things up. They don’t have a lot of rim protection but they make things uncomfortable and force plenty of turnovers while eliminating second chance opportunities. That all has resulted in a 17th place defensive efficiency ranking although that’s tailed off slightly in Pac-12 play.
The offense has been adequate for a top-25 level team but they’ve picked things up recently. That’s largely due to the stellar play of McKinley Wright who makes everything go for Colorado. Because of Colorado’s depth Wright is the only player on the team averaging more than 28 minutes per game and it falls on him to get every member of their 10-man rotation involved.
The Buffs don’t take a ton of 3’s but they have 6 players shooting at least 35% from deep so they are definitely capable of spreading out a defense and hitting shots. With that extra space they like to get the ball down low to Battey and Bey or let McKinley Wright drive in order to draw fouls and get offensive rebounds.
Colorado is the only team which Mike Hopkins has won at least 5 games against while losing 0 since he’s arrived on Montlake. The average score of those contests has been 72-61 in Washington’s favor. But this is definitely the best version of Colorado that UW will have faced in that time and the way things are going for the Dawgs it’s probably the worst version of UW.
These are two of the best defensive teams in the country and it’s unreasonable to think this will be anything other than a slugfest. Colorado’s only flaw on defense this season has been that they’re vulnerable in transition so Washington has to push the pace and try to score before the defense gets set when they have the chance. Until the clock hits 0 and the refs walk off the floor and the Huskies are on the flight back home it will be tough to believe that Washington can get this done even if they get out to a great start with the way things have been going.
Washington Huskies- 52, Colorado Buffaloes- 58
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