Saturday, February 2, 2013

Washington State

This evening, the Cats will turn the corner on the Pac-12 season in Pullman.  As the halfway point nears, the conference has shaken out in a predictable manner with Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA all fighting for the top spot.  The only real surprise has been Arizona State, who will have their hands full today in Seattle.  Oregon also will have to play well to win in Berkeley.  A win tonight could leave the Cats tied for 1st place in the conference, bearing in mind that Oregon needs to lose and owns the tiebreaker.  Despite a 2-6 conference record, the Cougs could present a challenge.  Although they do not have any strong wins, they did go down to the wire against Gonzaga, and they were one of the best defensive teams of the nonconference season.  During the conference season, however, their defense has suffered.  Because the Cats have had now had two consecutive stellar defensive efforts, they have been the best defensive team in the Pac.

Arizona has been better in nearly all facets of the game.  Our offensive efficiency has been slowly and steadily declining, now below 1.10 points per possession, but still, we have been much better than Wazzu.  We shoot the ball better across the board and are much stronger on the offensive glass.  Our defense has been more efficient than Washington State's as well.  If this game was played in Tucson, it would probably be an easy win, but on the parquet floor of Wallis Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum, you never know what can happen.  So let me tell you what my computer thinks will happen.

The simulation gives us a 67% chance of going home with the road sweep and puts us as six point favorites.  There is a 2.7% chance of overtime, and an expected final score of approximately 67-61.  As they have seemingly done for years, the Cougars take their time, ranking 294 in the NCAA for tempo.  Don't expect an up and down game.  Instead, expect a classic grind it out, slow paced affair, but one in which I like our chances.

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