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Colorado Game Preview & How to Watch

Washington tries to get back on track at home and avenge their defeat in Boulder last month

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament First Round - Washington vs Colorado Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch (and bet)

Date: Wednesday, 1/24/24

Tip-Off Time: 8:00 pm PT

TV: ESPNU

Streaming: Espn.com/watch

Radio: Huskies Gameday App, Sports Radio KJR

Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting Line: Washington Huskies +1

Colorado Buffaloes 2023-24 Statistics:

Record: 14-5 (5-3)

Points For per Game: 81.1 ppg (33rd)

Points Against per Game: 70.3 ppg (121st)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 117.3 (30th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 99.2 (41st)

Strength of Schedule: 76th

Colorado Key Players:

G- KJ Simpson, Jr. 6’2. 189: 19.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.3 apg, 51.0% FG, 47.2% 3pt, 88.0% FT

Last year Simpson put up huge numbers but did it while being wildly inefficient (28% on 134 3-point attempts). He has taken a leap in every way this season. He’s setting career highs in literally every single category this season and is off to a ridiculous shooting start from deep that seems unsustainable for someone who shot below 30% coming into the year. He was the KenPom game MVP in 9 of Colorado’s first 13 games but in none of their last 6.

1st game against UW: 21 pts, 10 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl

G- J’Vonne Hadley, Sr. 6’6, 205: 10.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, 56.5% FG, 41.2% 3pt, 81.5% FT

Before the last UW-Colorado game I noted that Hadley was a guard that plays like a power forward and doesn’t take 3’s. He has made 7/12 in Pac-12 play after being 1/12 for his career before that. He’s a defensive specialist that can bruise his way to the basket and will likely take the Keion Brooks Jr. matchup where he should matchup well physically. He’s shooting 59% on 2’s this year with a career best 44% free throw rate.

1st game against UW: 11 pts, 4 reb

F- Cody Williams, Fr. 6’8, 190: 15.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.9 apg, 58.9% FG, 50.0% 3pt, 67.4% FT

Williams is the highest rated recruit in Colorado history as a top-five freshman and he has played like it. He missed 7 games due to injury including the one against Washington but since his return has played at least 30 minutes and had at least 13 points in every game. He’s an elite scorer but doesn’t nearly as good of a rebounder as you’d expect for a 6’8 wing with his athleticism.

1st game against UW: Out due to injury

F- Tristan da Silva, Sr. 6’9, 220: 15.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 50.9% FG, 37.2% 3pt, 83.1% FT

Last offseason da Silva explored the NBA draft but decided to return and is putting up almost identical numbers to last season. The one spot where he has vastly improved is as a playmaker where his assists per game have more than doubled. Just like everyone else on the team he has sky high efficiency totals and isn’t that far away from the vaunted 50/40/90 club. He also has a career high rebounding rate which has always been an issue since he has traditionally been more of a finesse player who doesn’t play like he’s 6’9. Washington also missed da Silva in the last game as he was out with injury.

1st game against UW: Out due to injury

C- Eddie Lampkin, Sr. 6’11, 265: 10.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 53.4% FG, 0.0% 3pt, 71.4% FT

Colorado did extremely well in the portal to add in Lampkin from TCU. He has been an absolute beast on the boards so far with top-250 marks in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate. He’s certainly capable of posting up but isn’t quite the elite scorer like almost everyone else in the Colorado lineup. He’s a big dude and will be an interesting matchup against UW’s lankier, more athletic centers. The one thing he is not though is a shot blocker so he doesn’t offer rim protection.

1st game against UW: 17 pts, 12 reb, 5 TO

The Outlook

Washington had a golden opportunity to beat Colorado the first time around in Boulder. They were up by 7 points with just over 5 minutes left on the road after going on a 15-2 run. But Colorado answered with a 13-2 run of their own and took the game back. The Buffs managed it despite missing both of their starting forwards: Tristan da Silva and Cody Williams who combine to average 31 points per game.

Now, Colorado is fully healthy again and have looked like a juggernaut more recently. Their last 3 wins all came by double digits including a 16-point win over Oregon who had previously been undefeated in Pac-12 play and a 33-point bludgeoning of OSU. That sounds bad for a Husky team that needed a buzzer beater to defeat Cal then trailed nearly the entire game in a 10-point loss to Stanford.

One common denominator in all of those results is the location of the games. Colorado is 0-4 this season in true road games and 12-0 at home. Washington is 2-4 on the road and 8-2 at home. All three of Colorado’s losses though came missing at least of of their best 6 players. So what happens now when they’re fully healthy but playing away from the altitude of Boulder?

Regardless, Colorado should be able to put up plenty of points. They are one of just 4 teams nationally to rank in the top-37 in 2pt%, 3pt%, and FT%. As long as Colorado actually puts up a shot it has one of the highest chances to go in of any team in the country.

There are only 2 reasons the offense isn’t among the truly elite in the country. The first is that they really struggle with turnovers. Opponents steal the ball on 11% of possessions which is 317th in the country. Washington should get opportunities for fast break points and they absolutely have to capitalize in transition. The other is that they take one of the lowest rates of 3’s in the country despite shooting over 39% as a team. Colorado will only shoot if they have a wide open shot beyond the arc and prefer to move the ball inside.

If there are any flaws in this team then they come on the defensive end. I mentioned in the player writeups above but starting center Eddie Lampkin is absolutely not a rim protector. No one the team is averaging more than a half block per game and four separate Huskies would be leading Colorado in block rate. Washington should be looking to drive the ball with their guards and get to the free throw line. Sahvir Wheeler took 21 shots against Colorado in the first matchup and only made 7, missing a lot of open shots. He’ll need to be more efficient this time around.

One thing that Colorado does on that end though is protect the glass and the passing lanes. Opponents only get assists on 42% of baskets which is the 10th lowest mark in the country. Colorado’s size makes teams hesitant to pass and forces them into isolation matchups. UW has to find a way to keep moving the ball. The Buffs are top-20 in both defensive rebounding so UW’s centers have to battle Lampkin for boards.

It wouldn’t shock me if Washington won this game given how much differently each team plays at home versus on the road this season. Unless Franck Kepnang miraculously returns though, Colorado is just more talented nearly across the board and I just don’t see any way that the Huskies are able to consistently slow down Colorado’s offense when fully healthy.

Prediction

My record this year: 13-6 Straight Up, 7-11-1 Against the Spread

Washington Huskies- 81, Colorado Buffaloes- 89