The four toughest tests for UW this year may not be what you think. Washington has a tricky, but not impossible schedule. Things are bit different this year in the Pac-12 because an elite-level team (Arizona) has finally risen above the parity of the league in recent years as the favorite for the Pacific-12 conference title.
Currently sitting at 10-6 following a blowout win against Cal yesterday, Washington has a few obvious big games, and couple trap games in the schedule.
Let’s take a look at Washington’s four biggest regular season basketball games that still loom on their schedule.
Washington at Stanford (January 12, 2013)
Surprise pick. Why is a so-so Stanford team a threat?
This has all the makings of a classic trap game. Washington will be on the second leg of a road trip and just finished a tough game against a quality California team. If Washington comes in tired and mentally ready to head home for a stretch of easy games at Hec-Ed, an underrated Stanford team could topple them.
The Huskies will need to come in ready to play.
Prediction: Washington 69, Stanford 61.
Washington at Oregon (January 26, 2013)
The 12-2 Ducks are on fire, led by a balanced scoring attack and rebounding monster Arsalan Kazemi, who is currently averaging 9.8 boards per game. Oregon has blown through their schedule so far, beating 18th-ranked UNLV and unranked Nevada, the same Wolfpack squad that beat Washington at home.
Oregon has received top-25 votes in the latest polls and will be a very difficult team to beat at home.
Prediction: Oregon 75, Washington 70
Arizona at Washington (January 31, 2013)
The obvious big game on the schedule.
The Wildcats are ranked fourth in the country, well-coached, and stacked with talent. They’re also the only Pac-12 team currently ranked in the top-25. Their 14-0 record, including a number of close wins over tough opponents, speaks for itself. Washington will be coming off a tough road game at Oregon.
The home court advantage of Hec-Ed Pavilion will keep the Huskies in the game, but Arizona is too good.
Prediction: Arizona 76, Washington 66
UCLA at Washington (March 9)
It’s hard to know what to make of this UCLA squad. They’ve finally gotten rid of Joshua Smith, which presumably leaves more food for the rest of the team during pregame meals, but whether they’re a better team without him remains to be seen. The 12-3 Bruins have compiled a good record against tough competition so far, and are equally, if not more, talented than Washington on paper.
However, UCLA will land in Seattle after playing Arizona at home and WSU away.
The high-intensity matchup with the Wildcats and the home-court advantage of the Huskies could have a sagging Bruins squad ripe for an upset against a Washington program that traditionally plays its best basketball in March.
Prediction: Washington 73, UCLA 69
The Huskies can’t complain; they sure have an easier schedule than the football team had. These four games are, for various reasons, some of the biggest UW will have all season.