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2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Three Questions For Washington's Game Against Georgia


Most of us Seattle basketball fans probably reasonably assume that the Washington Huskies will beat the Georgia Bulldogs today.

Everyone knows they're talented, they've seemingly regained their confidence, and their defense at top intensity is enough to overwhelm even the best teams.

Nevertheless, if Huskies fans have learned anything this season, it's that winning is not a given even when the odds appear to be in the Huskies' favor. The following is three questions that will need to be answered in order for Washington to win.

3. How will changing the starting lineup affect their rhythm?

UW coach Lorenzo Romar's decision to change the starting lineup heading into the Pac-10 Tournament definitely raised a few eyebrows and - given the team's late-season struggles - might have led some people to question his decision-making as the reason for the team's disappointing season. But at the same time, it was justifiable very much because the team was searching for something that would work, particularly with senior guard Venoy Overton suspended.

So obviously re-inserting Gant into the starting lineup makes the team bigger against a Georgia team that can rebound.

2. How will UW respond if Georgia is able to slow the tempo?

As quoted on SBN's Dawg Sports, Glenn Logan of SBN's Kentucky site A Sea of Blue has pointed out that Georgia will want to slow the tempo to win this game.

Georgia Bulldogs v. Washington Huskies: The Haphazard Ill-Informed NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview - Dawg Sports
Georgia will need to control the tempo, as the Huskies love to fly around the court, and play at one of the highest tempos in Division I. If the 'Dawgs can keep the pace deliberate and possessions at or below about 64, I like their chances. Defensively, Washington has a small point guard and Terrence Ross is not a good defensive player yet, and I think if Robinson, Ware, and Leslie take their time and don't get suckered into a track meet with Washington, your more experienced players can hang with them.

We could certainly go into a detailed analysis of what might happen should the Bulldogs be able to slow down the Huskies. But there's another way to look at this that comes back to a common refrain: if the Huskies play with their full defensive intensity, create turnovers, and score in transition, Georgia won't have much control over the tempo. And based on their season numbers, turnovers stand out as a glaring advantage for UW. So UW's defense might supercede the concern of controlling the tempo - if they come out with their best defensive intensity, it will become moot point.

1. Can UW control the boards?

A recurring theme this season - in addition to wavering defensive intensity - has been allowing teams to outrebound them. Going back to Logan, rebounding might be the thing most within the scope of Georgia's control.

Georgia Bulldogs v. Washington Huskies: The Haphazard Ill-Informed NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview - Dawg Sports
They are big, athletic, and can rebound like crazy, so defensive rebounding is critical against this team, but Georgia's thickness and size will help them against the thinner Huskies. Washington plays above the rim, so it's really important for your big people to block out soundly on defense. Conversely, Washington is not a very good defensive rebounding club and Georgia is a very good offensive rebounding team. So if the 'Dawgs can beat them in the offensive rebound war, it will put you in a good position to win. . .

Rebounding is a concern for UW not because Georgia holds an objective significant advantage but because it's an area where the Huskies have inexplicably struggled this season.

And that's a good place to reiterate the primary point about this Huskies team: there's only so much analysis we can do. When this team shows up at their best, they are extremely difficult to beat. When they are off, they're really off and can lose consecutive games to NIT teams. There's not really any strong way to predict that even if there might be some clear indicators of how a loss might occur.