How to Watch (and bet)
Date: Thursday, 3/2/23
Tip-Off Time: 8:00 pm PT
Location: Seattle, Washington
DraftKings Betting Line: Washington Huskies +1.5
Washington State Cougars 2022-23 Statistics:
Record: 15-15 (10-9)
Points For per Game: 67.3 (266th)
Points Against per Game: 64.8 (34th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 111.3 (79th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.7 (55th)
Strength of Schedule: 20th
Washington State’s Key Players:
G- Justin Powell, Jr. 6’6, 197: 10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 40.6% FG, 40.8% 3pt, 78.8% FT
At Auburn Powell went from playing as a jumbo backup point guard to strictly off the ball and he subsequently transferred to Washington State. The one thing that hasn’t changed through all of it is his shooting as he’s a career 40%+ sniper. He leads the team in assists but WSU’s scheme doesn’t really lead to a lot of ball movement so his assists rate is one of the lowest for a nominal starting point guard in the Pac-12. But he also doesn’t turn it over.
1st Game vs. UW: 6 pts (2/10 3pt), 3 reb, 4 ast
G- T.J Bamba, Jr. 6’5, 215: 14.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 41.8% FG, 35.2% 3pt, 71.9% FT
Bamba was the breakout star for WSU but missed 3 games due to a hand injury and started off slow after returning. During WSU’s 5-game winning streak though he’s averaging 17.1 points per game on better than 50% 3-pt shooting. While he shoots a decent number of 3’s per game he still prefers to drive to the rim and is adept at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line.
1st Game vs. UW: 20 pts (8/10 FT), 7 reb, 2 ast
G- Jabe Mullins, Jr. 6’6, 192: 8.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 43.3% FG, 41.7% 3pt, 90.0% FT
The Mt. Si graduate went to Saint Mary’s out of high school and couldn’t break through to be more than a reserve. He transferred to Pullman and is now challenging UCLA’s David Singleton for the title of best shooter in the Pac-12. In conference play he actually leads the team in assist rate. He hardly ever gets to the free throw line but started out 24/25 this year despite now going 3/5 during WSU’s current winning streak.
1st Game vs. UW: 6 pts (2/4 3pt), 3 reb, 3 ast
G- D.J Rodman, Sr. 6’6, 215: 8.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 40.4% FG, 38.3% 3pt, 77.2% FT
The son of the famous NBA star missed WSU’s last 2 games due to illness but is expected back tonight after a week between games. His shooting from the 4 position has been key for WSU’s offense as he is 2nd in the Pac-12 in offensive rating during conference play by shooting 42% on 3’s and 83% from the FT line. He’s a solid rebounder as an undersized power forward but nowhere near what his dad was.
1st Game vs. UW: 4 pts (1/8 FG), 9 reb, 3 ast
C- Mouhamed Gueye, So. 6’11, 210: 14.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 48.3% FG, 26.3% 3pt, 68.0% FT
Gueye is in the running for most talented player in the conference. The problem for Washington State is that he tries to do too much. Gueye is shooting 34% on midrange or long 2’s and 26% on 3’s this season. Those aren’t good shots in general although last week Gueye has made his last 3 attempts behind the arc. KenPom compares Gueye’s season most closely to names such as Ivan Rabb and Domantas Sabonis. He’s a dominant offensive rebounder but a surprisingly underwhelming shot blocker given his physical gifts. Where Gueye has really made strides this season is as a passer raising his assist rate from 4.7% to 13.8%.
1st Game vs. UW: 17 pts (6/14 FG), 15 reb, 2 stl
During my preview article from a few weeks ago when these teams first squared off I thought this was a pretty good matchup for the Huskies and predicted a UW upset in Pullman. The Cougars had lost 5 of 6 (the exact same set of wins and losses as UW) at that point. Washington ended up covering the spread but not winning outright in an ugly 56-51 loss during a defensive battle.
That game has spurred a defensive renaissance for Wazzu as they’re now on a 5-game winning streak against the easiest stretch of their schedule the way the Dawgs hoped to be doing. Against the rest of the old Pac-12 North the Cougars haven’t given up more than 65 points in a game. The offense has been in a funk though as outside of the Oregon State home contest they haven’t scored more than 68 points in the other four games. That has led to a number of close wins for the Cougars.
That’s not something you’ve been able to say very often lately. I noted in my last preview that the Cougars were 2-9 last year in games decided by 5 points or less and were 2-5 coming into the Husky game. Of course WSU won that game against UW by 5 points and beat Oregon by 3, Stanford by 4, and Cal by 6. That’s what you call regression to the mean.
Feel free to read back the preview from several weeks ago about how WSU’s approach tends to play into Washington’s hands. It mostly played out that way but Washington just couldn’t get enough scoring punch with Keion Brooks and Keyon Menifield combining to shoot 5/19 on 2’s and 0/5 on 3’s.
In general though this should be a close game. Washington is 6-3 at home in conference play with the only losses coming to the teams ranked 1, 2, and 3 in the Pac-12 standings. Three other games have gone to overtime where the Huskies prevailed. They were against the teams 4th and 5th in the standings (...and 12th). Against the middle class of the Pac-12 when in Seattle the games have been close and UW has generally been able to pull them out.
My biggest concern is that Noah Williams and P.J Fuller were unavailable last week and Noah at least is likely out again tonight. Against WSU the first time those two played a combined 58 minutes and Williams was UW’s leadings corer with 12 points on 4/8 shooting off the bench. The Huskies will have to figure out some way to generate more offense going with their true freshman backcourt in the last game of the regular season. The good news is that Keyon Menifield averaged about 5 more points per game at home since moving into the starting lineup including shooting 22% better on 2-point shots.
Still, my gut is telling me this is a disappointing senior night loss for Jamal Bey and Washington enters the Pac-12 tournament next week against either Colorado or Stanford on a multi-game skid. The Cougars narrowly pull it out.
Max’s Record this Year: 20-6 Straight Up, 15-10-1 Against The Spread
Washington Huskies- 62, Washington State Cougars- 65