Washington Huskies (26-8) vs. Utah State Aggies (28-6)
Game time: Friday, March 22, 6:50 p.m. ET
Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Where to watch: TNT
Spread: Utah State -3
The No. 9 seed Washington Huskies take on No. 8 Utah State in the first round of the tournament on Friday in Columbus. The matchup may seem tricky at first glance, but only one team is trending in the right direction.
The Huskies finished 4-2 in their last six games and lost by a whopping 20 points to Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference tournament final. In head coach Mike Hopkins’ second year at Washington, the Huskies are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011.
Washington is led by Pac-12 player of the year Jaylen Nowell (16.2 ppg on 50 percent shooting) and conference defensive player of the year Matisse Thybulle (3.4 steals per game). Utah State’s answer on defense is a freshman by the name of Neemias Queta, who possesses a 7’5” wingspan and averages 2.4 blocks per game. In the Mountain West quarterfinal against New Mexico, he swatted away six shots, the second time he’s blocked as many baskets this season.
Utah State nabbed the Mountain West Conference tournament title this season under first-year head coach Craig Smith. His Aggies have won 10 straight and lost just once in their last 18 games. Their defense should create issues for the Huskies, who average 69.8 points a night.
Washington is 1-4 ATS in its last five neutral-site games and 1-6 ATS in its last seven games overall. The Aggies are 5-1 ATS in their last six games following a ATS win.
The Huskies keep it close for much of the game but ultimately fall to the Aggies in the first round. Utah State will cover the -3 spread.
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