Utah’s Challenging Schedule Continues With Clash Against Washington
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah men’s basketball team continues their tough stretch against the top teams in the Pac-12 on Thursday night when they face a physical Washington Huskies squad.
The Utes are currently on a four game losing streak and hold a 10-7 overall record, 1-4 in Pac-12 play after their 83-64 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils. They are back for two games at home following a three game road trip against Colorado and the Arizona schools.
Washington is 12-7 overall and 2-4 in Pac-12 play. They have lost three of their last four games with two losses coming in overtime. The Huskies recently loss to then-No. 8 Oregon at home on Saturday, 64-61 in overtime after Payton Pritchard nailed a deep three with three seconds left in the game.
Utah leads the all-time series against Washington 15-11. Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Utes are 10-5 against the Huskies and 6-2 at the Hunstman Center. Washington has won the last two meetings, sweeping the two-game series last season.
Utes Need To ‘Get Back To Playing Utah Basketball’
The struggles for the Utes over the last four games have been due to not shooting the ball very well. The Utes have made over 40 percent of their field goals in just one of their last four games.
But, Utah’s head coach points to one thing that he wants his team to improve on as they prepare for Washington.
“I am confident that we can bounce back with the right mindset,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “We have to get back to playing Utah basketball, which I think is playing harder than we have played over the last couple of weeks.”
Krystkowiak has preached many times this season that in order for his team to be competitive is to play hard, smart and together.
Washington goes as freshman Isaiah Stewart goes. The 6’9, 250 pound forward is a physical and talented player. He leads the Huskies in scoring (18.3), rebounds (9.0) and blocks (2.2) per game. Stewart ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in scoring, third in rebounding and third in blocks.
Fellow freshman Jaden McDaniels is averaging 13.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 blocks per contest. Nahziah Carter is adding 12.6 points, 5.5 boards and 1.1 blocks per game this season.
As a team, they lead the Pac-12 and are fourth in the country in blocks per game with 6.68. Four players average at least one block per game.
Under head coach Mike Hopkins, the Huskies primarily use a zone defense against their opponents and run it very well. It’s not your typical zone that is either 2-3 or 3-2. They run a more matchup type zone.
The Huskies lost Kentucky transfer and starting point guard Quade Green, who was named ineligible two weeks ago. Before he was deemed ineligible, Green was averaging 11.6 points, 5.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. His last game was against USC on January 5. This will mark the fifth game that Green will miss.
Major Metric Rankings
Part of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee process is the information compiled from five major metrics, the NET rankings, the three metrics from ESPN, including Strength of Record, BPI and RPI. The final two metrics that are used are the rankings from KenPom and Sagarin.
Utah is ranked No. 79 in the NET ranking after dropping 11 spots after their loss to Arizona State. Washington is No. 48 in the NET rankings, dropping one spot after their loss to Oregon. They are the sixth highest ranked team in the Pac-12 according to the NET rankings, while Utah is ninth.
Here is where the other metrics have the Utes this week:
- RPI – 71
- SOR – 73
- BPI – 128
- KenPom – 124
- Sagarin – 97
For Washington, here is where the other metrics have them ranked:
- RPI – 52
- SOR – 82
- BPI – 75
- KenPom – 45
- Sagarin – 57
Also, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses the Quadrant system where they put the opponent in a quadrant depending on their five ratings in their major metrics. Entering the game against Washington, Utah is 1-5 against Quadrant 1 opponents. Their five losses came against Oregon, San Diego State, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State, while their lone win was over Kentucky in Las Vegas.
The Utes are 4-0 against Quadrant 2 teams with wins over BYU, Nevada, Minnesota and Oregon State. In Quadrant 3, Utah is 1-2 with both losses coming against Tulane and Coastal Carolina in the Myrtle Beach Invitational with their only win coming against Ohio. The Utes are 4-0 in Quadrant 4 with wins over UC Davis, Weber State, Central Arkansas and Mississippi Valley State.
Washington has a 1-4 record in Quadrant 1, beating Baylor. Their four losses came against Gonzaga, Stanford, Oregon and Houston. They are 2-1 in Quadrant 2 with wins over USC and Oregon State, while losing to Tennessee. The Huskies have a 4-2 record in Quadrant 3 with their wins coming against Ball State, Montana, Eastern Washington and Hawaii. Their losses in that quadrant were to UCLA and California. They are 5-0 in Quadrant 4 with victories over South Dakota, San Diego, Seattle U, Mount St. Mary’s and Maine.
Utah and Washington will square off on Thursday night at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
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