Baylor takes on Washington at 8:30 tonight. The game airs on ESPN.
Washington is No. 47 on KenPom. The Bears are No. 11. KenPom gives Baylor a 66% chance to win. Baylor is a five point favorite on major sports books.
1) Defending without fouling:
Washington has three star players: Quade Green—a Kentucky transfer and former five star guard, Isaiah Stewart —the No. 4 player in the 2019 class and Jaden McDaniels—the No. 8 recruit in the 2018 class.
That trio will put immense pressure on Baylor’s defense. The Bears elected to play man-to-man the whole game against Central Arkansas. That defensive decision is a welcome change for this year’s squad. But the Bears had 20 personal fouls, including four each for Mark Vital and Tristan Clark. Stewart and McDaniels are going to beat Baylor’s defense some; that’s okay. Baylor just can’t get their bigs in foul trouble early. Mitchell will be a menace for Green.
2) Avoiding turnovers:
We’ll see how Mike Hopkins has Washington defend. The former Syracuse assistant has been a 2-3 zone coach in Seattle. But he claimed they’ll play a lot of man-to-man this season.
The Huskies have done an exceptional job turning people over. They ranked 33rd in 2018 and 4th last season in defensive turnover rate. The Bears should be content to let Jared Butler and company go to work.
3) Don’t panic if Washington goes on runs:
The Huskies are ridiculously talented. They’ll have stretches where their two lottery picks will take over and be nearly unstoppable. But this is the first career game for that duo. Washington ranks sub 200 in returning minutes. As great as the Huskies will be for stretches, they’re going to have disastrous stretches adjusted to college basketball.
Baylor has a much better backcourt. While the Huskies have supremely talented freshmen, and Tristan Clark is going to need some games to come back, the Bears have a very good defensive frontcourt.
If Baylor has a competent shooting night, they should be able to beat Washington. The Bears have a better roster. Washington’s frontcourt can’t do enough, and Baylor wins 74-66.