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Colorado Game Preview & How to Watch

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Can Washington sweep the vaunted mountain road trip?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 20 Colorado at Washington Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How to Watch (and bet)

Date: Sunday, 1/9/21

Tip-Off Time: 2:00 pm PT

TV: ESPN2

Streaming: Espn.com/watch

Radio: Huskies Gameday App

Location: Boulder, Colorado

DraftKings Betting Line: Washington Huskies +9.5

Colorado Buffaloes 2021-22 Statistics:

Record: 10-3 (2-1)

Points For per Game: 71.9 ppg (136th)

Points Against per Game: 66.2 ppg (88th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 107.8 (86th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.2 (81st)

Strength of Schedule: 224th

Colorado Key Players:

G- Keeshawn Barthelemy, So. 6’2, 171: 11.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 41.7% FG, 35.6% 3pt, 82.9% FT

With McKinley Wright IV in the NBA we’ve seen a much expanded role for Barthelemy and he has mostly lived up to the burden. He’s not exactly leading the lead in assists as the starting point guard but he has kept turnovers low and is the best high volume 3-point shooter on a team that doesn’t take a lot of them. He has been extremely solid and looks like he’ll have the chance to be an all-conference type player if he keeps improving and stays all 4 years.

G- Eli Parquet, Sr. 6’4, 195: 7.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 48.6% FG, 20.8% 3pt, 73.5% FT

Parquet is the poor man’s Matisse Thybulle with his ability to block shots from the guard spot. His steal rate though is down quite a bit from conference play last year so he hasn’t quite created as many turnovers. On offense he struggles with his outside shot but is making 63% of his 2’s so he’s a weapon cutting to the basket with his elite athleticism.

G- Jabari Walker, So. 6’9. 215: 13.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 45.7% FG, 23.1% 3pt, 70.8% FT

Walker was the most obvious breakout candidate in the conference after statistical comps to his true freshman year in limited minutes included Jerami Grant and OG Anunoby. Unfortunately his 3-pt% is less than half what it was last year in a similar number of attempts although his rebounding hasn’t been affected by the increase in playing time. Walker is 2/15 from deep in Colorado’s last 5 games so Washington has to hope he is content to chuck it up against the zone. The Buffs have only played 3 conference games but so far Walker is 1st in defensive rebounding rate and 5th in 2-pt% in Pac-12 play so keeping him away from the hoop should be the imperative.

G- Tristan da Silva, So. 6’10, 217: 7.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 42.4% FG, 30.0% 3pt, 79.2% FT

Tristan is the brother of Stanford star Oscar da Silva and hasn’t shown so far to be the same dominant player in his first season as a starter. Colorado plays a jumbo lineup much of the time which certainly hurts his rebounding but da Silva essentially rebounds like Terrell Brown at 6’10. He’s a solid passer for his size but there’s not really one area he dominates unless his 3-point shot is falling like it did on Thursday night against WSU (2 for 3).

C- Evan Battey, Sr. 6'8, 259: 13.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 57.5% FG, 55.6% 3pt, 71.1% FT

I absolutely adore basketball players with Battey’s body type as he is an absolute bowling ball around the rim with soft touch. He was a career 11/50 shooter on 3-pointers coming into this season but has made 10/18 this year. It’s hard to think he’s suddenly become a dominant outside shooter but he was 4/4 against Stanford and 23 against the Cougars. It’s always a surprise with his frame that Battey isn’t a better rebounder but his deft hands allow him to a quality post scorer and he’s a threat to score every time he gets the ball.

The Outlook

It’s still unclear exactly how good Colorado is at this point in the season. They have had some close calls with wins either in OT or by 3 or fewer points to #156 Montana State, #171 Brown, #197 Duquesne, and #215 Eastern Washington in addition to a loss to #133 Southern Illinois. Their 2 best wins came at home by 5 or fewer points to Washington State and Stanford who are solid but neither is a surefire NCAA team. Put it all together and Colorado is 6-1 with all of the games within 5 points at the end of regulation against teams ranked somewhere between 16th and 216th at KenPom. That certainly suggests their record may be a little bit of fool’s gold.

Looking at this year’s Tad Boyle squad reminds me of Stanford the last few seasons and not just because they have a da Silva. 3 of Colorado’s 5 leaders in minutes played are 6’8, 6’9, and 6’10 plus they also have a 6’8 PF and 7’1 C who back them up. This is a big team that loves to rebound the ball and play physical. They rank in the top-80 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate and 6th in the country in free throw attempts per field goal attempt so they get to the line consistently with their size.

There has to be a trade-off with that kind of lineup and it comes at the expense of their 3-point shooting. Colorado is 345th in the country in the percentage of their points that come from behind the arc and shoot just 31.5% from deep as a team. For what it’s worth though Colorado has shot at least 40% in each of their past 2 games including an upset of Wazzu so they may be turning the corner in that regard (or it’s a small sample size fluke). Only 2 Buffs take at least 3 attempts per game and of their 6 highest volume 3-pt shooters only one of them makes better than 32% (sound familiar?).

The Colorado defense has been solid so far this year but don’t really stand out in any regard. The only category in which they rank in the top-90 nationally is in defensive rebounding while they’re just outside the top-100 in both 2-pt and 3-pt defense. The Buffs largely just man up and have a team of solid, long defenders who do just enough to prevent easy attempts and then limit second chance points.

This would be a marvelous time for Nate Roberts to step up after a stretch of particularly poor play. Washington desperately needs his bulk to counter Evan Battey in this matchup and avoid getting dominated on the boards. Jackson Grant and Langston Wilson have shown flashes but are liable to just get shoved out of the way against the heft of Battey.

I am expecting that Colorado is going to dominate Washington on the boards as teams have all of Hop’s tenure. The Huskies will need to continue to force turnovers at exceptional rates like they have the last 2 years to ensure easy fast break points and slow Colorado down on offense. It also wouldn’t hurt to win the 3-point battle against a team that is as woeful as they are in that regard. If Cole Bajema continues his hot streak from at Utah that would certainly help. In the end though I think Colorado is able to pull away down the stretch as they wear down the Husky front line with foul troubles and get it done at the free throw line.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 65, Colorado Buffaloes- 77