Well for the first time in awhile the medical news out of Colorado had nothing to do with marijuana. Which isn’t good but it’s what filled the headlines when we weren’t watching Aaron Gordon dunk things behind his head. Twice. Moving forward of course, this is a big weekend. Scroll up and down the schedule and I challenge you to find a game that doesn’t have significant long term effects. Maybe that’s hyperbole but I find genuine intrigue to every game this weekend. Making this a great weekend for my parents to come to town and my dad to schedule a Segway Tour (I can’t currently confirm this but it’s heavily rumored. I’ll keep you posted). The weekend:
GotW: We must ignore, to an extent, a top-25 match up. As noted in previous previews, a top-25 tilt is a big deal in the Pac-12 of late because there just haven’t been many. Like actually hooking up with someone via Tinder, it’s rare. But similarly to that app, we’re going to have to swipe #25 UCLA @ #21 Colorado to the left in favor of a night on the town with Washington at California. This one doesn’t have particular national implications but it’s a Wednesday night contest featuring the league’s two most surprising stars. The Dawgs have played fantastic through four games with a solid split in the desert. Meanwhile, Monty’s road warriors are 3-0 with nary a game atop the giant bear. And where this diddy spices up aside from the standings implications, is in the contrast of styles. Or, perhaps more succinctly said, what Washington can’t do. They have almost no interior game. The percentage of shots they take at the rim (30.9%) ranks 315th in the nation. The ball does not go into the lane when Washington has it. Often, they let CJ rain. LET CJ RAIN. But these front court issues aren’t exclusive to the offensive side of the ball. Teams shoot the third highest FG% at the rim against Washington That’s 72.1% shooting which, in lay terms, is not-missing-much-percent. All of that said, Richard Solomon will be an obvious key here for the Bears as he’s a game changing big man and Justin Cobbs gets crazy buckets at the rim for a PG or anyone for that matter. Kid gets more than 30% of his offense there. This isn’t the game of the week we deserve. It’s not even the game of the week we need. But it’s the game of the week we’ve got so LET CJ RAIN. (read on for more about Washington as this preview somehow became commandeered by Dawg stats)
Game to Avoid: Scrolling through this week’s Pac-12 schedule like I told you I already did lead me to not one game I wasn’t interested in. This is probably why I’m the world’s preeminent Pac-12 hoops blogger but that’s a different story. Here’s where I net out: Oregon @ Oregon St. First I love this game because no one knows what you’re going to get out of Oregon State or a rivalry game. This is the Civil War on the hard court. Anything can happen and if you know what I mean by anything can happen then what the hell are we going to do with a 1-4 Oregon squad? Alas, this becomes a game to avoid because of geography. That’s a strange proposition considering I declared my love for this game based on the geography of its participants. I’m thinking bigger picture here, guys. You see, Oregon is uniquely located between the states of Washington and California. More specifically it’s located between Seattle and San Francisco. And even more specifically it’s located between the Seahawks and the Forty Niners. See where I’m at now? The population center is Portland which is just stone’s throw from Seattle and probably defines much of the State’s Hawk allegiance. Nonetheless, all across the Beaver State there is a vested interest in the NFC Championship that kicks off at 3:30. If you’re going to avoid the 5pm Civil War, this iteration would be the one to skip. Besides, the Ducks’ defense isn’t about to stop you.
Something to Prove: It’s the Colorado Buffaloes. Here’s a team that has developed a reputation for playing emotionally over the past two years – winning the big game, losing to the lesser travel partner. But they find themselves now with their greatest and easily most emotional challenge yet. The loss of Spencer Dinwiddie is a major blow. One any team would struggle to absorb but a challenge nonetheless. And then they found out, just hours later, that Tre’Shaun Fletcher would miss the next 6-8 weeks with a knee injury of his own. Shit on shit on shit. But this cannot define the Buffaloes. It is a challenge they must rise to and accept. They’ll need to make adjustments – you don’t replace a Spencer Dinwiddie overnight – but there are enough talented players here to carry on. They’ve been dealt a tough hand, I want to see how they respond.
Something to Lose: It’s a surprising 3-1 but not as if they’ve used a herculean effort to get here. They haven’t necessarily blacked out from the field (aprox same FG% in four conference games as their overall FG%, 46% vs. 45%). Their ORtg has taken a near ten point dive so they’re technically less effective on offense. But for these Washington Huskies, their in conference defense ranks second amongst the Conference of Champions. Context? It’s more than ten points per 100 possessions better than their overall defensive efficiency (92.3 vs. 103.5). It’s a similar drop to that of their offensive efficiency (noted above). And so I ask: Who are these Dawgs? Are they the effective offense of their non-conference slate with a porous defense or the inverse they’ve shown us through four conference games? What do they have to lose, you might ask? Sweet momentum and their winning identity, of course. The Dawgs are riding high but a tough trip to the Bay could derail the Dawgs and normalize this trend. Or it could not.
The YouTuber: Slight deviation from our traditional final segment but it’s a pretty long GIF so it shall fly. Enjoy, it’s called “picking up chicks at the gym” and it’s really weird: