Pac-12 Tournament: Colorado vs Washington Preview
Colorado vs Washington Preview
This Pac-12 semifinal matchup is very fitting for the Colorado Buffaloes (21-11, 10-8) as they take on top-seeded Washington (25-7, 15-3) at 9 p.m. ET on Friday. The Buffs could not handle the Washington zone defense and clutch offense in two prior meetings between the schools this season, falling 77-70 and 64-55.
Since that latest loss to UW, the Buffs are winners of five straight games.
“Washington obviously is champion of the league over an 18-game schedule, and they’re very, very good,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said after Thursday’s 73-58 quarterfinal win over Oregon State. “They’ve got a lot of good players. But the teams that have had success against Washington are the teams that have really guarded them well. And we’re going to have to do that again tomorrow.”
Jaylen Norwell scored 24 points, David Crisp added 18 and Washington held off a late charge to beat Southern California 78-75 in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
“USC just kept coming back. You have to give them a lot of credit. They kept fighting back, fighting back,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. “Our guys showed a lot of resiliency.”
Washington earned a first-round bye by winning the regular-season title, but stumbled down the stretch. The Huskies lost to California, which was previously win-less in Pac-12 play, and scored 47 points in a loss to Oregon in the finale.
Led by senior guard Matisse Thybulle — the two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year — the Huskies have throttled teams defensively with their 2-3 zone defense, allowing opponents a league-low 62.3 points per game in conference play. Thybulle led the league in steals this season with 71 in conference play — nearly twice as many as any other player — and was second in the conference in blocked shots, averaging 2.56 per game.
The Huskies also have the Pac-12’s Player of the Year in guard Jaylen Nowell, who averaged 15.7 points per game in conference play while handing out more than three assists per game.
“They can risk a lot with Thybulle by having him cheat out front,” said CU sophomore forward Tyler Bey. “That’s the big thing with their zone because he does so much, their bigs can stay inside.”
Bey, who entered the Pac-12 tournament with five double-doubles, saw that streak come to an end in the win over Cal. Thursday, he saw his streak of games with double-digit rebounds end at eight, as he was limited to just six by the Beavers.
It was the bench performers that stepped up for the Buffs in their win over OSU. Sophomore Alexander Strating who averaged less than two points in seven minutes per game, scored 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
LINE: -2 Washington
Dan’s Bet: Colorado +5
I’ll be betting this game as part of a three-point teaser. I like Colorado to win outright because they are the hotter team, but their history against UW isn’t kind.
Score Prediction: Colorado 66 Washington 65