Looking back on this entire season, Cal's win over Washington has got to be the craziest game of the year, right? Tons of offense, 3 pointers raining down all the time, big runs, lead changes . . . it was chaotic basketball at its best.
And Cal somehow survived despite allowing 11 made three pointers. I'd just as soon watch Cal win a bit more comfortably this time, if possible.
Washington, meanwhile, is entering today's game having won four of six since falling to Cal in Seattle, with one of those wins being a shocking upset over Stanford. Still, UW has lost two in a row, both blowout losses to Oregon State and Stanford. UW is the ultimate live-by-the-3, die-by-the-3 team. When they beat Stanford they hit 9-21 threes. When they lost to Oregon State by 20, they hit 3 of 17.
Washington simply doesn't have the inside presence to win games when they don't shoot the ball well. They are the 2nd worst rebounding team in the conference and more skilled post players are going to find success inside. Their three best players (Kelsey Plum, Jazmine Davis and Talia Walton) are all players that tend to stay towards the perimeter, particularly on offense.
Our Computer Overlords Predict
Sagarin Predictor: Cal by 10
After arguing that Cal should have been favored by more than the computers said, our overlords punished my hubris by forcing Cal to win in overtime. I'LL NEVER DOUBT YOU AGAIN OUR BENEVOLENT RULERS!
Keys to the game
Don't even let UW attempt three pointers: Easier said than done, right? A healthy portion of UW's offense is based upon creating 3 point opportunities for their shooters. When there are at least three players willing to launch deep shots no matter how tiny the available window, it's going to be tough to stop.
Still, it can be done. Cal arguably did it in Seattle, when UW ‘only' attempted 20 three pointers - the Huskies average 23 and will throw up 30 or more if given the opportunity or when playing from behind. It's going to have to be an emphasis, particularly for whichever players get assigned to Kelsey Plum and Jazmine Davis. But choices will have to be made for the post players guarding Talia Walton. Do you let her shoot and stay inside for rebounding and rim protection, or do you get out and stop her from shooting?
Make the game a battle for the paint: In Seattle, Cal won a 3 point shooting contest. It was fun, but it won't happen very often for our Bears. Instead, the tide of the game turned late in the 2nd half when Cal started getting into the lane and dominating the glass. If Cal can make the game about interior play for 40 minutes they should win comfortably, because Washington doesn't have the size to compete against Cal in that type of game.
Great one on one defense: UW is a low turnover, low assist offense. Translated, it means that their top scorers get the ball and try to make something happen in isolation or off the dribble coming around screens. The pressure will be on Cal's defenders to fight as hard as the can to stay in front of Plum, Davis and Walton on every play or they will get to the rim or find space for an open jumper.
Send the seniors out right: I'd like to hope that there are still quite a few games left in the season, so it doesn't feel like good bye yet. But these four seniors deserve to go out at Haas with a win.