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Friday night's contest features two NCAA tournament-caliber teams striving to start their seasons strong. Baylor, fresh off a 20-win season hopes to make a deeper run in the tournament this season while Washington hopes to build chemistry quickly among their new players.
This is game is part of the 2019 Armed Forces Classic at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Tip-off is slated for 9:30 p.m. EST and airs on ESPN.
Baylor has ample offensive talentThe Bears have an embarrassment of riches in guard play. In their 105-61 victory over Central Arkansas, Jared Butler led the way with 30 points. Butler placed heavy emphasis on his perimeter shooting, where he made a career-high eight three-pointers.
Complementing Butler was MaCio Teague who scored 18 points and snatched 10 rebounds--not bad for his debut with the Bears. What the win illustrated was how versatile Baylor's offense can be. Five different players made Baylor's first five shots, showing how well the Bears can spread the ball. Against a Huskies' defense that will try to gel on the fly, Baylor could have many scoring opportunities, especially on the perimeter, as Washington allowed 12 three-pointers in their win over Western Washington.
Defensively, Baylor faces a Washington squad that's practically brand new. Only one starter returns from the last season and they lost 80 percent of their offensive production. So, the Huskies have to learn on the fly, giving Baylor the added incentive to play pressure defense to disrupt rhythm. If they're successful, they'll limit Washington's offensive possessions and have more opportunities for scores in transition.
Who will step up for the Huskies?The Huskies will have to learn on the job, as they have four new starters and a plethora of fresh faces filling their roster. Players to watch include Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart. Both forwards earned preseason All Pac-12 honors. Another player to watch is Kentucky transfer Quade Green, who should be an immediate contributor for the Huskies.
It's clear Washington possesses the athleticism to provide a formidable challenge to Baylor. What is unknown is how well the Huskies' players gel in high-pressure situations. And this is what they're facing on Friday night in front of a nationwide audience.
Defensively, the biggest area of focus is playing more aggressively on the perimeter. Baylor's guards are adept at making the extra pass to create scoring opportunities and given Butler's ability to drain shots from behind the arc, Washington must do a better job or else they'll be playing catch up all game.
Offensively, they must win the battle on the boards. This is where Washington can rely on players like Tristan Clark to shine. Clark, who's recovering from a knee injury, was an immediate presence inside where he had four rebounds in five minutes in Washington's win. While the Bears might have the advantage in guard play, look for the Huskies to use their size inside to try to tilt the game to their advantage.
Trends found on Covers.com Washington is:
- 1-4-1 in last 6 non-conference games
- 6-0 ATS in last 6 non-conference games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Bears enter this game with more experience and unity. For as much talent as Washington possesses, they haven't played many games together. And this inexperience could cost them by way of miscommunications which leads to open shots for Baylor and turnovers. Furthermore, Washington struggles to defend the perimeter whereas Baylor loves draining shots from behind the arc. Look for the Bears to take advantage of this and the Huskies' inexperience in a hard-fought win.
Prediction: Baylor -5.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Baylor's offense thrives in neutral site games, where they're 5-1 in the Over in their last six contests. Against Washington who struggles to defend the perimeter, look for the Bears to score early and often from behind the arc. Due to this, the Huskies will try to push the tempo to keep pace. In what amounts to a high-scoring game, Baylor's guard play becomes the deciding factor against a Washington team that's trying to develop cohesion on the fly.
Prediction: Over 140