Matt Scmidt from ZonaZealots.comkindly answered a few questions about tomorrow’s matchup between Arizona and Washington.
1. Who do you think has the momentum in this game?
The Wildcats. Though Arizona has had some close calls in “trap” games against Utah and Washington State, the Cats have gone undefeated in the second half of the season and have taken down Cal, Stanford and Colorado along the way. The Wildcats also come into this game with revenge on their minds. The loss against Washington at home had the red and blue faithful wondering what it will be like watching March Madness without U of A in the mix, but Arizona’s late rally and ability to finish games have put them very much in the conversation again.
Washington’s recent 7-1 spree is not unimpressive by any means, but being blown out by Oregon doesn’t help.
2. What will Arizona look to exploit?
It is not so much what Arizona can exploit as it is what Arizona can do for themselves. This may sound elementary, but Washington has won and lost most of their games by outshooting or getting outshot by their opponent. Washington does an exceptionally good job at creating second opportunities by creating turnovers and offensive rebounds. Because of Arizona’s small size, the Huskies will get more opportunities than the Cats do.
Translation: The Wildcats need to put up a strong defensive effort and not give Washington any easy looks, but also need to make the limited opportunities they do have count.
3. Is this a must win for both teams?
For a chance at the Pac 12 title? Yes. For a bid in the NCAA tournament. No. Win or lose, both teams have an exceptional chance at winning the Pac-12 Tournament and getting an automatic bid that way. Washington, however, needs this win more than Arizona does. Not only does Arizona’s current resume look more impressive, but Washington has a tougher schedule ahead of them. An Arizona loss does not put the Cats in the desperate situation of needing the conference tournment title for an NCAA bid (in my opinion, Arizona can still get in by losing one more game in the regular season and securing a couple of wins in the Pac 12 tourney); A Washington loss puts the Huskies in a bad situation.
4. Prediction: who is the guy to step up for Arizona?
Last time, Washington did a phenominal job of shutting down Arizona’s guard play and forcing the Wildcats to drive to the bucket. As hot as our three point shooting has been of late, I expect that the Huskies will come out with the same plan of action. This will put the ball in the hands of our best take-it-to-the-hoop player, Solomon Hill. Last meeting, Hill had the game of his life, putting up 28 points and coming down with 11 rebounds. Expect him to have a big game.
Also watch for off-the-bench players Brandon Lavender and Angelo Chol to have a much bigger role than they did in the last meeting. Due to injuries, Arizona now plays with a 7 man rotation and has relied a lot on these two to make up the difference. These two have come up big in key situations, with Lavender making opponents pay the price for leaving him open downtown and Chol improving dramatically on defense down-low.
5. Who scares Arizona fans the most on this Husky team?
Does the answer “everyone” count? Washington’s all around talent is a nightmare for opponents. Wroten and Ross would be the obvious answers, but Aziz N’Diaye’s size creates problems for a small team like Arizona and opens things up for the players around him.
6. Is this how you felt this season would go for Arizona?
Yes and No. I thought we would be in the hunt, but not as a result of pulling ourselves out of the gutter after the first half of the pac 12 season and going on a 5 game craze.
7. Prediction: who wins this game and what is the score?
The implications for this one are immense and the Huskies have the advantage of being at home. The recent momentum has favored the Cats, but I think Washington will be too much for Arizona and get the sweep. Washington by 6.
Thanks Matt! Go check out ZonaZealots.com for the Q&A with yours truly later this evening.