Starting the season, the University of Washington basketball program looked destined to take part in March Madness 2010.
Just before Christmas the team pulled off a win over Texas A&M, and it looked like things might go as planned.
It turned out that was the best victory they’ve had all season so far.
The confident Huskies seemed to play like they could just turn it on at any time and thought they could roll straight through the Pacific-10 conference.
While the Huskies have a ton of ability, they hardly played up to that during the regular season. Because of that, they needed a strong showing in the Pac-10 tournament to even receive a bid.
Washington couldn’t get it rolling in time to take the regular season title, but one positive is they’ve gotten hot at the right time.
A team that couldn’t manage a road victory until the 25th game of the season ended with a four-game road winning streak heading into the Pac-10 tournament, and then of course won the three neutral site games as well.
The Huskies are led by senior Quincy Pondexter and his 19.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. They feature one other scorer over 15 ppg, Isaiah Thomas at 17.
The Huskies like to place a fast-paced running style and spread the ball around to different players. They are much more comfortable on the run than taking jump shots and have streaky jump shooters. That could be a problem come March Madness time.
Despite their struggles during the regular season, Washington never lost its confidence and still plays with the swagger it started the year with.
On defense the Huskies like to play a lot of man and try to create turnovers for fast breaks.
On the year the Huskies led in scoring, rebounding, and turnover margin in the Pac-10.
Going into the first round the Huskies (24-9) are averaging 79 points per game and giving up 69.9.
Matching up against Washington is the Marquette Golden Eagles (22-11).
Like Washington, Marquette relies heavily on their guards. They are at their best when they are penetrating and dishing out to their excellent shooters. The Golden Eagles have three shooters averaging over 37 percent from three-point range!
The Golden Eagles will rely on their ability to take care of the ball and shoot to win games.
Marquette features two players with scoring averages over 15 ppg, Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler.
While the Huskies aren’t overwhelmingly tall, they do have a height advantage against Marquette.
Marquette goes into this game averaging 72 points and giving up 64.
This is a very winnable game for both teams. If Washington can play at a fast pace and take care of the ball, they should have a good night.
For Marquette, they need to have their shots drop. A cold shooting night would be fatal for the Golden Eagles. They have been tested much more, however, in the Big East conference, which could tip the scales in their favor.
The Huskies are starting to play well at the right time and match up in the first round against a team that doesn’t overwhelm them with height. It should be a good, close game.
I have the Huskies pulling off the upset 74-68.
Article originally featured at The Sports Chronicle Blog.