How to Watch (and bet)
Date: Thursday, 1/19/23
Tip-Off Time: 6:00 pm PT
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Colorado Buffaloes 2022-23 Statistics:
Record: 11-8 (3-5)
Points For per Game: 73.0 (112th)
Points Against per Game: 66.7 (96th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (99th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 93.2 (20th)
Strength of Schedule: 36th
Colorado’s Key Players:
G- KJ Simpson, So. 6’2, 177: 17.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.8 apg, 43.6% FG, 34.4% 3pt, 79.0% FT
1st matchup stats: 13 pts (5/9 shooting), 3 reb, 3 ast, 3 to, 2 blk, 1 stl
G- Nique Clifford, Sr. 6’6, 191: 7.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.6 apg, 39.1% FG, 28.6% 3pt, 65.5% FT
1st matchup stats: 4 pts (1/4 shooting), 5 reb, 1 ast, 3 to, 2 stl
F-J’Vonne Hadley, Jr. 6’6, 215: 9.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 52.3% FG, 71.4% FT
1st matchup stats: 15 pts (7/10 shooting), 4 reb, 1 ast, 3 to, 1 blk, 3 stl
F- Tristan da Silva, Sr. 6’9, 217: 14.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 51.9% FG, 36.9% 3pt, 67.2% FT
1st matchup stats: 13 pts (6/14 shooting), 4 reb, 2 ast, 2 to, 2 stl
C- Lawson Lovering, So. 7’1, 225: 3.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 50.0% FG, 46.2% FT
1st matchup stats: 4 pts (2/4 shooting), 3 reb, 2 to
When Washington played Colorado the first time in early December the Buffs were one of the most perplexing teams in the country with wins over Tennessee and by 30 over Texas A&M but losses to Grambling State and UMass. That hasn’t really changed as Colorado has beaten Oregon by 27 since then but also lost to Cal. It is starting to make more sense though that the Buffs are a bad road team and a good home team. Colorado is now 8-1 at home with the lone loss coming by a single point to ASU. Then again they’ve only played Oregon and Yale at home who are rated at least as high as UW at KenPom.
It’s not unique that this Colorado team should play better in Boulder. The altitude almost always gives them a unique home-court advantage and that seems to be the case against this season. We’ll see if it holds up by season’s end though when they conclude the year with a 3-game home stand against the L.A schools plus Utah.
Just before two teams meet for the second time it’s worth examining the first matchup and what happenings seem sustainable moving forward. The 10-point Husky win over a top-50 KenPom team was one of UW’s most impressive of the season. That final margin largely came at the free throw line where Colorado was 6/14 (46%) and UW was 14/16 (88%). Unsurprisingly the Buffs shot worse than their season average and the Huskies shot better than theirs. But Colorado is 290th nationally in FT% and UW is 70th so even if the difference isn’t that stark again tonight, it’s still an advantage for the Huskies.
Availability of course makes a difference and Washington was missing Noah Williams in that first game while Colorado is now without Jalen Gabbidon who started 5 games early in the season for them. It was a lackluster game for Gabbidon (2 pts, 1 reb in 11 minutes) but if Williams plays like he did on Saturday against Cal then that’s a roster win for UW.
Braxton Meah was the best player on the court the first time around with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. There’s a chance he has another big game as Colorado only has one traditional big (Lawson Lovering) and he’s extremely underwhelming. His block and rebounding rates are way below what you’d expect from a 7’1 center and his offensive repertoire is even more barren than Braxton Meah’s. If Meah is able to stay in the game and Lovering isn’t then Colorado doesn’t have anyone who can match up with him inside.
Colorado’s best offense came from J’Vonne Hadley who appeared very capable exploiting the empty middle of Washington’s zone defense. We saw Cal light the Dawgs up in that zone on Saturday and we’ll see if Hopkins makes any adjustments to try to prevent it from happening so consistently again.
It certainly helped Washington that Colorado shot just 5/17 on 3-pt shots the first time around while turning the ball over 18 times. Neither of those is necessarily all that shocking as Colorado is 249th nationally in 3-pt percentage on offense and 332nd in terms of getting the ball stolen. There should be opportunities for the Huskies to get out in transition with live ball turnovers. KJ Simpson is their primary ball handler but he’s more of a combo guard than a true point guard and backup Julian Hammond is the only other player on the roster averaging more than 1.7 assists per game.
The strength for Colorado though is their defense as Tad Boyle tends to not recruit anyone unwilling to be a bulldog on that end. They don’t generally force a lot of turnovers (although UW had 18 the first time around) but they stay close to opposing offensive players and cause them to shoot poorly from everywhere on the court. They also don’t give up second chance points which was backed up by UW losing the offensive boards battle by a count of 13-4.
Washington countered that by shooting 58% on 2’s and 37% on 3’s. It doesn’t feel like that’s at all sustainable unless the Dawgs get another 11 steals which lead to 7+ easy transition layups/dunks.
There’s obviously a non-zero chance the Huskies are able to pull off the season sweep against Colorado. There are definitely advantages that Colorado has over the Dawgs but there also weaknesses which UW is in a position to exploit. A win likely looks a lot like the first one where the Huskies force a ton of turnovers and use that to score frequently in transition. They probably won’t shoot as well as they did the first time but that would hopefully be tempered by not having 5 turnovers each from PJ Fuller and Keion Brooks Jr.
The more likely scenario is that Colorado shoots a little better in the confines of their own gym and the Huskies tire down the stretch playing in the altitude. I think the Buffs get off to a big lead as UW struggles offensively, the Huskies are able to pull it back to within reach partway through the 2nd half, but Colorado ends up covering with a push in the closing minutes.
Max’s Record this Year: 15-4 Straight Up, 11-7-1 Against The Spread
Washington Huskies- 59, Colorado Buffaloes- 71