Washington Basketball team Dawgs in Pac-12 Tourney opener

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29: Noah Dickerson
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29: Noah Dickerson /

Despite a higher seed, the Washington Basketball team finds itself the underdog in their Pac-12 Tournament opener against 10-seed Oregon State

The Washington Basketball team ended the season with a 20-11 record overall and an impressive 10-8 record in the highly competitive Pac-12 conference. In that 10-8 record was a double-overtime loss in Corvallis 97-94, but a victory at home 79-77 to even the series. Somehow in the oddsmakers view, the Oregon State Beavers have the edge over the Washington Huskies at the neutral site of T-Mobile Arena at Las Vegas Nevada.  In the eyes of most spreads, the Huskies enter the game as a one or two point underdog.

But don’t tell Coach Hopkins that. You see, the entire Pac-12 has been reluctant to project any success for the rookie coach, and the team turned a 9-22 season around to 20-11 in one year.  And that earned Hopkins the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award.

Tough Challenge but #TougherTogether

But his coaching skill will certainly be put to the test today. The Washington Huskies appeared to peak too soon this season when they won back to back games against then nationally ranked Arizona State 68-64 and Arizona 78-75. Since then, the Huskies have limped along at a 3-5 pace to get to the Pac-12 Tournament.

Oregon State has struggled as well. At one point in the season, they boasted a 10-5 record. But a 1-6 run after facing the same pair of Arizona teams landed them at a 15-15 heading into the tournament.

Washington players to watch

Washington fans will want to keep an eye on three players. The first is the defensive despot, Matisse Thybulle. As the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Thybulle causes as much impact on the defensive half of the baskeball court as the offensive side. If he can top his averages of three steals and 1.4 blocks per game, Oregon State will find the going much tougher than they expected.

Another player to keep an eye on is Noah Dickerson. In two games against Oregon State, Dickerson has averaged 27 points and nine rebounds on 38 minutes of work. If he scores at will against Oregon State, you can look for a Huskies win.

Nowell key to win

The third player is the wild card: Jaylen Nowell.  He drained 23 points in the first contest with a 60 percent shooting from three-point range. In the second contest, he found just 12 points , eight of which came from the free throw line. He needs to show up early and often in this one.

Next: The Case For Washington Huskies Basketball

The game will occur at 6:00 p.m. PT at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Nevada. The winner of the game will go on to face two-seed USC at 6:00 p.m PT on Thursday , March 8, 2018.   Washington holds a 1-0 advantage over USC due to a 88-81 road victory earlier this season. The game will be televised via the Pac-12 Sports Network.