OK: we've had a day to celebrate the vanquishing of the Red Menace, but now, with YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles flyin' on a jet plane to NYC, it's time to turn our attention to tomorrow's opponent in the Jimmy V Classic: the Washington Huskies, who sit 4-2 on the year (and ranked 46th in KenPom) after dropping a 76-73 overtime decision at Nevada last Friday.
A brief, by-the-numbers (courtesy of StatSheet.com) look at what to expect from UW tomorrow:
(1) Out of the freezer and into the frying pan. After slumbering through a 63-possession Bo-ball contest on Saturday, Marquette will see a team at the opposite end of the tempo spectrum tomorrow: Washington averages a run-til-you-pass-out 75 possessions per 40 minutes, with the slowest game in 2011 (St. Louis) at 66 possessions and the fastest at 83 (Houston Baptist). The Huskies turn the ball over a decent clip -- 15.5 per game, thus far -- but because they play so fast, their turnover percentage number isn't alarming (20.7%, which is right around average for a D-1 team). If Marquette is so inclined, this game could be played at 200 mph, which would go a long way to restoring my basketball equilibrium after Saturday's hibernation.
(2) Keep 'em off the boards and keep 'em inside the arc. The Huskies are especially proficient in two facets of the game when they have the ball: offensive rebounding and three-point shooting. As to the former: Washington corrals over a third of its own misses (38.2%), with junior seven-footer Aziz N'Diaye leading the way with 17 offensive boards thus far and a trio of Huskies with 10 total offensive rebounds on the year (Terrence Ross, Darnell Gant, and Tony Wroten).
UW has attempted 110 three-pointers this season, which isn't a big number by any stretch of the imagination. (For comparison's sake: Marquette has attempted 117, and triple-happy Wisconsin has already launched 191 attempts from deep.) What is impressive, though, is the number of three-point shots Washington is making: they've connected on 47 attempts from distance, good for a 42.7% success rate that ranks 22nd amongst D-1 schools. The leader from three-point range is sophomore wing C.J. Wilcox, who's made more than half of his 35 attempts (18-35 from three), and Ross is no slouch from beyond the arc either, as he's made nearly 40% of his attempts (13 for 33).
With that gaudy three-point percentage, it should come as no surprise that UW's offense averages 1.08 points per possession, which will make the Huskies the second-most efficient offense MU has faced thus far. That number would be even better if the Huskies got to the line more often (36% FTA/FGA rate, right in the middle of D-1 schools) and shot better when they do manage to get to the charity stripe (62%).
(3) Make your threes, make your throws. Washington has decent numbers on the defensive end of the court, too, with the most impressive being their opponents' two-point shooting percentage (a chilly 41.5%) and, with the obvious caveat of "you don't really get credit for a guy on the other team missing a throw," opponent free-throw percentage (60%). With N'Diaye patrolling the paint and averaging 2.3 blocks per game and Ross chipping in with seven blocks of his own, it's easy to see why the Huskies have been stellar inside the three-point line -- and since Washington doesn't turn its opponents over very often (an average of about 14 opponent TOs per game), it's equally easy to see why good two-point defense is vital to the Huskies' success.
Beyond the arc, though, it's a different story: UW is getting strafed from distance, giving up 37.4% shooting on its opponents' three-point attempts. Of course, we're dealing with a six-game sample size here, and you might think (quite logically) that the weak three-point defense number is influenced mightily by the bombing Billikens from SLU. But while St. Louis sank 43% of its triples (9-21), this is a weakness that's shown up all season for the Huskies: Georgia State and Florida Atlantic each hit 40% of their three-point attempts (10-25 and 8-20, respectively) and Houston Baptist managed eight threes on 19 attempts.