College Basketball Odds, Picks and Predictions for Washington vs. Colorado (Sunday, Jan. 9)
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Junior Ballard (Washington)
Washington vs. Colorado Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Pac-12 is back to its old ways. The “Conference of Champions” is, once again, an ironic self-proclaimed title (we love you, Bill Walton).
After a two-year mini boon, the Pac-12 has been “re-relegated” to the outhouse amongst the power conference elites. Sunday’s matinee showdown between Colorado and Washington features two culprits responsible for the league’s subtle demise.
Devoid of all-everything point guard maestro McKinley Wright IV, the Buffaloes have fallen on hard times in 2022. A 10-3 overall record and 2-1 conference record doesn’t tell the full story, which is illuminated by the Buffs’ 3-8 record against the spread.
Washington, well, its been a special kind of bad. The “Fire Mike Hopkins” chorus is signing loud and proud, as the Huskies have already dropped games to the likes of Northern Illinois, Winthrop and Utah Valley at home.
However, the Huskies showed resiliency on Thursday, when they erased a double-digit deficit in the second half to stun Utah in Salt Lake City.
It’s rare to see any Pac-12 team go 2-for-2 on the always dreaded back-to-back mountain trip, so can the Huskies pull off the unthinkable?
Squint hard enough at Washington’s horrid resume and you’ll find a few green patches of grass.
On top of last Thursday’s upset in Utah — marking Washington’s first conference win of the season — UW competed admirably in Tucson against the feared Wildcats of Arizona. That took a superhero effort from, fittingly, former U of A transfer Terrell Brown Jr., who’s been a one-man-band for Hopkins this season.
No other key contributor boasts an O-Rating of over 100, per KenPom, a ghastly collection of the Huskies’ offensive efficiency.
The defense is better, but not without flaws. Hopkins, a longtime understudy to Jim Boeheim and his 2-3 zone tutelage, can’t seem to place his finger on what structural defensive identity to employ.
He’s lost some faith in the patented zone and the oscillating defensive strategies leaves UW in “no man’s land” far too often.
“Boyle Ball” is alive and well in Boulder. Under Tad Boyle’s regime, the Buffs are notoriously physical on both ends of the floor.
The skill, however, lags behind, particularly on the perimeter. CU’s frontline is loaded, headlined by NBA prospect Jabari Walker and anchored by burly veteran Evan Battey.
That towering twofer can go toe-to-toe with any frontcourt in the conference, but their backcourt counterparts haven’t held up their end of the bargain.
Keeshawn Barthelemy has played admirably in Wright’s stead, but he’s more of a supporting actor, as opposed to a someone who plays a starring role. Fellow guard KJ Simpson has been erratic — as most freshmen point guards are — but he’s still finding his way at this juncture.
This roster imbalance makes Colorado easy to scout and scheme for. The obvious opposing solution — as witnessed countless times this year — is to cram the paint and hog the air space of the Buffs’ bigs, while daring the guards to beat you from the outside.
Washington vs. Colorado Betting Pick
Hopkins has been under-the-gun this year, and rightfully so, but he deserves credit for a well-timed and well-calculated, in-game maneuver on Thursday against Utah.
Early in the second half, he scrapped the zone and went full man-to-man, which coincided with the initial surge that fueled the Huskies to victory.
Against Colorado, on the second leg of this rigorous mountain trip, that zone may come in handy.
Hopkins is using his bench sparingly this season, which may demand a heavy dose of zone defense to conserve his starters’ energy late in the game. The altitude will surely takes it toll, but this zone could be the neutralizing mechanism that keeps the Buffs from pulling away.
CU could have a field day on the offensive glass, but any time you can force Colorado into being a jump shooting team, you’ve given yourself a chance. Take the Huskies with the points.