If the Georgia Bulldogs want to advance to the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament's East region, they will have to find a way to beat a winning team.
Georgia, the No. 10 seed in the East, won only two games against teams with winning records in SEC play, by beating Kentucky and Mississippi State.
Coming off a second-round SEC Tournament loss to Alabama, Georgia is looking to break the run of winless No. 10 seeds, with Michigan State and Penn State going down in the first day of the tournament.
To take down the No. 7-seeded Huskies, they will need a big effort from star forward Trey Thompkins, who heated up in his last three SEC games with averages of 18.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.
His presence on the glass and in the paint will be vital against a Washington team that ranks 12th in the NCAA in rebounding and 25th in field-goal percentage.
Fellow junior forward Travis Leslie will be called on as well to keep the talented Huskies guards Isaiah Thomas, Justin Holiday and Abdul Gaddy away from the rim and make them settle for jump shots.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar will need a stabilizing presence in the middle from Matthew Bryan-Amaning, a 6'9" senior. Bryan-Amaning's 8.1 rebounds per contest are a team high and he's the only player with an average over five in that category. With Georgia's main offense coming from the post players Thompkins and Leslie, Bryan-Amaning will need to stay on the court and out of foul trouble.
Washington has a considerable advantage on the perimeter with Thomas, their star point guard. His 16.8 points and six assists drive the Huskies' fast-paced attack and open up favorable scoring chances for swingman Justin Holiday's 1.4 three-pointers per game and high-flying jams.
Bryan-Amaning's game has benefited from Thomas' quickness and penetration as well. His career highs of 15.1 points and 55-percent shooting are drastic improvements over his career averages. If he can counteract some of the deficit that Washington will likely have in paint scoring, the Huskies should win this game—just like they won the Pac-10 Tournament.
This is a matchup of teams going in opposite directions. Georgia has lost two out of three and peaked four months ago. Washington didn't set the Pac-10 on fire, but put together some great momentum with the three wins in Los Angeles last weekend, including the buzzer-beating victory in the title game against Arizona.
All signs point toward Washington winning this game.
Georgia Keys to Victory
- Win the rebounding battle
- Outscore Washington in the paint
- Don't let Matthew Bryan-Amaning hurt you on offense
Washington Keys to Victory
- Shoot well from the perimeter
- Keep Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie from huge games
- Get Isaiah Thomas going early on
Prediction: Washington by 12