After an embarrassingly non-competitive 22-point road loss at then No. 11 Auburn and then struggling to beat middling mid-major San Diego at home by three points, the Washington Huskies Men’s program is sliding towards being on the bubble for a 2019 March Madness invite.
The Huskies will look to bolster their resume with some quality nonconference wins over the next 2-3 weeks.
This week, the Huskies are in Vancouver, B. C. for the Vancouver Showcase.
The Huskies are in need of quality Power 5 conference wins early, to ensure they are trending the right way when PAC-12 conference play begins in January 2019.
The Huskies’ first Vancouver Showcase foe, the winless Santa Clara Broncos(0-2), may look like an unintimidating early season breather— but they couldsinglehandedly taint Washington’s overall (NET) ranking by the NCAA Selection Committee, by leaving an indelible mark on their resume and psyche heading into tougher matchups later this week against Texas A&M and Minnesota.
UW_MBB Huskies vs. Santa Clara
Frankly, the Huskies should do to Santa Clara what Auburn did to them.
Santa Clara should be overmatched by the Huskies’ talent and depth, but they should not be overlooked.
Santa Clara is coached by ex-Arizona State/N.C. State head man Herb Sendek. Sendek is a very experienced coach looking for his first win this season and a signature win for his program.
Santa Clara lives and dies at the three-point line, as the largest portion (39%) of their total points come from made three-pointers.
In just two games, the Broncos have attempted 52 three-pointers, by comparison, the Huskies have 58 three-point attempts in three games.
Expect the Broncos to try to rain 3-balls on the Huskies defense while attempting to control tempo on offense and defense – e.g., similar to the Seattle Pacific playing-style except with Division One players.
The real tension in this matchup will be defensively, as both the Huskies and Broncos tend to focus on denying the 3-point line.
So far, the Huskies have done a poor job defending the three-point line allowing opponents to shoot 38.3% from three (ranked 279th nationally). The Huskies will need to be more aggressive at the top and wing areas of their zone to deny uncontested three-point shots.
Based on the first three games, the Huskies’ prior offensive performance suggests they will be more focused on scoring in the post with Noah Dickerson and via dribble penetration by their guards and wing players.
The good news for the Huskies is Broncos’ opponents make 52.4% of 2-point attempts against them.
Clearly, the Huskies must prevent a three-point barrage by Santa Clara because trading two points for three points is a losing formula, both offensively and defensively.
Still, Washington shoots 53.7% on its 2-point attempts, compared to Santa Clara making only 28.8% of its three-point attempts (Josh Martin (37.5%) and Keshawn Justice (54.5%) are the Broncos’ most consistent threats from three).
And the Huskies average 68.3 points per game versus Santa Clara’s 56.5 points.
So, if everything goes well expect a blowout victory by the Huskies over the Broncos.
But if Washington has any difficulties in dispatching the Broncos. it will be a serious red flag for the Huskies heading into their final two Vancouver Showcase games against Top 70 opponents Texas A&M (Nov. 20 @8:30 pm) and Minnesota (Nov. 21 @3:30 pm).
Certainly, Washington can’t afford to let off the gas pedal against any opponent, if the Huskies want to secure a NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2011. Go Dawgs!