Featured Video from Scott Reichel
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus Ohio
When: Friday, March 22, 2019, 6:50 pm Eastern
We have an exciting contest brewing in the Midwest Region when number nine seed Washington Huskies face number eight seed Utah State Aggies on Friday afternoon in Columbus Ohio. I’m the Flash and I’ll be previewing this game between the Pac-12 Champion Huskies and Mountain West Champion Utah State. Let’s see how we are going to make “Cash with the Flash” in this matchup on Friday!!
Washington Has 0-3 Record Against Top 25
By virtue of winning the Pac-12, the Washington Huskies are in this event and outside of a couple of losses to Oregon, including the Pac-12 Tournament Final, the Huskies had a damn good season. KenPom ranks Washington as the number 51 ranked team in the country with a strength of schedule rating as the 67th strongest in D1 hoops this season. So, their record of 26-8 probably wasn’t a fluke and they earned their way here. Washington has a record against the top 25 this season of 0-3, and that is a bit concerning. What’s encouraging is the Huskies didn’t lose more than one consecutive game this season and boasts a 12-game winning streak this season. Washington can make a statement by defeating Utah State, but are they good enough to do so?
— Washington Men's Basketball (@UW_MBB) March 18, 2019
Washington isn’t reporting any injuries for their Friday contest with Utah State.
The Huskies had a neutral site record of 4-3 this season and are hoping to end a one-game losing streak on Friday against Utah State.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell leads the Huskies in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per game with 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Nowell drills 1.4 triples per game and has exceeded his scoring average in three of the last five games.
Washington scores an average of 69.8 points per game and pulls down 8.1 offensive rebounds, snares 23.5 defensive boards and drops 11.7 dimes per game this season.
UPDATE #1 3-20-2019 The Flash
Washington Head Coach Mike Hopkins discussed the recent Huskies offensive woes leading up to their matchup with Utah State
“We just got to share it and move the ball,” he said. “The more the ball moves, the better shots we’re going to get, the better rhythm we’re going to have.” No matter how well the offense is rolling, the thing that is going to make us different in this tournament or any tournament and has made us different all year is our defense, And if you stay focused on that and don’t let missing shots affect that, we can be in every game. Now, make shots and do that? Now we can beat anybody. But you got to focus on something and defense is going to be our main focus” Hopkins said.
UPDATE #2 3-21-2019 The Flash
Senior guard Matisse Thybulle, on being compared to NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders
These guys. I mean, seriously, we play zone and these guys load up the backside, so I’m able to go and make plays and try and chase the ball around a little bit. And that’s been, that’s huge for me because just trying to be disruptive, I have to be able to go and get out and gamble sometimes and kind of put our team in some tough situations. And they do an incredible job having my back.
And honestly, they make great plays out of that. So I think from my own personal success a lot had to do with, one, Coach Hop, and, two, the four guys I have on my back at all times.
Utah State 10-Game Winning Streak
Utah State received an invitation to this event by winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament and KenPom ranks the Aggies as the number 34 team in the country and their strength of schedule as the 145th strongest in D1 basketball this season. The Aggies had a record against the top 25 of 1-2 this season and didn’t lose more than one consecutive game this season. Utah State had winning streaks of five, seven and the ten-game winning streak they are currently riding. Utah State ended with a record of 28-6 and Washington had better bring their “A” game otherwise they could be in big trouble on Friday.
— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) March 18, 2019
The Aggies aren’t reporting any injuries for their matchup with Washington on Friday afternoon.
Utah State has a neutral site record of 5-1 this season and are riding a ten-game winning streak.
Junior guard Sam Merrill leads the Aggies in scoring, averaging 21.2 points per game with four rebounds and 4.2 assists per game this season. Merrill drains 2.5 triples per game and has exceeded his scoring average in each of his last five games.
The Aggies score an average of 79.2 points per game and reel in 9.3 offensive rebounds, snare 31 defensive boards and drop an average of 17.1 dimes per game this season.
UPDATE #1 3-20-2019 The Flash
Utah State Head Coach Craig Smith talked about being the Eighth Seed
“This is the first year of the new system with the NET rankings. You just didn’t know how things were going to go. It’s a little bit of a roller coaster. When the bracketology started we were just outside the bubble, right there. We worked our way along the bubble, then went back a little bit after the Fresno State loss but were still right there. It was tough, not only the way we lost, but we would talk about it every now and then, every game matters to us. Truly every game means something to us. It’s one thing when you’re in seventh, eighth or ninth place, where maybe you kind of play a little bit. Maybe some guys are thinking – coaches don’t think this of course – but what’s the difference between a 6-seed and an 8-seed. But when you’re in a position where you’re just outside the bubble, every game truly means something. I think that helped us going into the conference tournament because I’m not sure it felt any different than what we experienced all year long. It’s a sign of respect.
“It’s interesting because we were picked ninth in the preseason conference poll, then we got an 8-seed. Quinn Taylor actually said that, and it makes you think how far these guys have come. We could talk all day about that, but it is a sign of respect. I was a history major, so I see where we were, where we are, and where we’re going. You think back to where we were 11 months ago and where we were this summer. I could talk all day about the improvements of the team, the improvements of certain guys. Not only with our skill level, but our ability to adapt. A couple of our guys shed a bunch of weight and got serious about nutrition and the strength and conditioning aspect of things. There’s no doubt there’s been a direct correlation with that. Some guys have really done what’s necessary. Some guys talk the talk, and some walk the walk. Actions speak louder than words and certainly these actions spoke louder.
“There’s just so much pride here. Utah State has been to, this is now 21 NCAA Tournaments. Stew Morrill has been unbelievable. It means so much to be able to restore what we want to do. It’s a new era, being in the Mountain West, and getting back to what expectations are that way. This group of young men made history and they’ll always have that bond. We want to really connect our team and the program with the greats. Whether that’s coach Morrill being at our Nevada game, Spencer Nelson, Jaycee Carroll and other former Aggie greats. Marvin Roberts spoke to our guys at one of our practices. You look up at the banner and his number is retired up there. It’s important to me as a head coach to connect our current players with our past and join them together. It truly is about the relationships that you make and the experiences that you gain that last a lifetime.”
UPDATE #2 3-21-2019 The Flash
Merrill was asked about not having as much pressure on the Aggies because it’s their first NCAA Tourney
Like we’ve talked about before, expectations preseason from those around us weren’t very high. But as a team we felt that we could really do some damage. And we’ve always grown and grown throughout the season, but this is obviously, hopefully, not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some of us, but it’s something that you have to enjoy.
I think our coaching staff and us as a team have done a good job this week of not trying to worry about the outside stuff as far as the media and all the excitement around it, but trying to focus on Washington and our game coming up and our scouting reports and prep. And practices have been the same that they’ve been all year.
As far as mentally, I don’t assume — I don’t anticipate that we’ll come out really nervous or jittery. Fortunately we got to play in our championship game on Saturday in the Mountain West Tournament, and that felt like it was a big game, too. So we did a pretty good job there. So hopefully we’ll do a good job tomorrow as well.
Stay tuned for updates until tip-off time!!
- Aggies are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Aggies are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Aggies are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS win.
- Huskies are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- Huskies are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss.
- Huskies are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Utah State has been underrated the entire season and I’m glad they finally reached the Top 25 and even happier about the 10-game winning streak they are currently riding. The Aggies are 18-15 ATS this season and the Huskies are 17-16-1 ATS this season and struggling against top 25 sides. This is going to be a toughie, but make “Cash with the Flash” and join me in laying the wood and riding Aggies to the promised land on Friday!!
Prediction: Utah State -2.5 Points
Full-Game Total Pick
Washington has finished under the total 67.7 percent of the time and that makes sense because the Huskies boast a top 20 defense. The Aggies finish under the total 48 percent of the time, probably because their defense is only top 50. This is going to be a defensive battle and I’m looking forward to watching this game.
When I did the math and added everything together, I came up with a total of 133.7 points and thought it might be too high. I will be playing the under in this contest on Friday.
Prediction: Under 135 Points