Hey there, team Madness. Here’s another piece by a new contributor. Hope you enjoy! Agree? Disagree? Please let Josh L. know what you think.
by Josh Liebeskind
Many question marks are swirling around Montlake, so let’s jump right in and take a look at what the Dawgs are facing in the Pac-10 Tournament.
First Round (vs. Oregon State): After beating the Beavers for the second time this season, the Huskies will immediately face Oregon State for a third time. This is not a game the Huskies should take lightly. It’s challenging to beat a team three times in one year, let alone back-to-back.
The 1-3-1 zone the Beavers deploy is another reason to worry. It has proven troublesome for the Huskies at times this season. If the Huskies cannot get out in transition, then they are liable to have an offensive breakdown. If the Huskies can penetrate and shoot like they did on Saturday, though, I have no reason to doubt their ability to beat the Beavers for a third time. Look for I.T. to have another big game, especially if Abdul Gaddy can penetrate the zone at will.
Second Round (vs. Arizona State/Stanford winner): Assuming they meet Arizona State, this game is going to test the Huskies mentally and physically. If OSU’s zone causes fits for opposing players, then ASU’s zone causes chaos. The Sun Devils are eighth in the nation in team defense, giving up only 58.1 points per game. Since losing by 17 at ASU in the first matchup of the season, the Huskies offense has shown improvement against zone defenses and Justin Holiday has turned into the defensive catalyst.
With the mixture of offensive improvement and Holiday’s All-Pac-10 defense on Rihards Kuksiks, I am confident the Huskies can come out on top and play themselves into the championship game.
Finals: At this point, barring a major upset, the Huskies would advance to play Arizona or Cal. Both would be a tough matchup for the Huskies outside of Hec Ed and may prove too much to handle after two straight tough games. But the way the Huskies are playing, it’s hard not to be confident in the their ability to beat anyone in the conference.
What needs to happen: I firmly believe the Huskies do not need to win the Pac-10 tournament to earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament. If they win two games and reach the tournament finals, they would finish with a record of 23-10. Even in a down year, it would be difficult for the committee to turn down 23 wins from a Pac-10 team. And, it’s particularly hard to imagine with UCLA’s athletic director as the head of this year’s committee.
Thanks, Josh L.
And, thanks for coming!