Two of the best college basketball teams in the Evergreen State haven’t had the starts they’d hoped for after some early losses in non-conference play. They’ll meet Friday in another non-conference clash that strongly favors host Gonzaga against cross-state rival Washington.
The favored Bulldogs enter this one with a worse record, but that’s the product of facing arguably the toughest schedule in the country. It’s not like Gonzaga has wilted, either: blowout losses to top-five teams Texas and Purdue suggest a weaker ceiling than we’re used to with this group, but wins over Kentucky and Xavier and one-point loss to Baylor show this team’s rock-solid floor, too.
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Gonzaga vs. Washington prediction (9 p.m. Eastern))
In fact, Washington profiles as one of the worst teams the Bulldogs have faced all year, and it’s clearly one of the worst offensively. The Huskies’ attack ranks outside of the top 150 in adjusted efficiency thanks to stagnant ball movement and sloppy turnovers, though they’ve relied on elite interior defense to survive the first month of the season.
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Even that’s in question now after losing top shot-blocker Franck Kepnang (1.9 bpg) to a season-ending knee injury, leaving Washington with just one player over 6-foot-7 in its regular rotation. That’s a recipe for disaster against Gonzaga star forward Drew Timme (19.8 ppg), who’s still performing like one of the five best players in college basketball.
The Zags have won 14 of the last 15 meetings between these schools, which includes six straight wins with four coming by 16-plus points. Expect a similar result on Friday.
Gonzaga vs. Washington pick
Gonzaga -17.5 (BetMGM)
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