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NIT Quarterfinal Preview: Happy I Hate washington Day

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ATQ will have wall-to-wall coverage of tonight's bonus edition of Happy I Hate washington Day. axemen23 is at Hec Ed covering the game for the Oregon Daily Emerald, and we'll have a "Cover It Live" box on the gamethread if you want to ask him questions about the gameday environment or anything he may be able to see in the arena. Immediately following the game, Matt Daddy and myself will break it all down on Tuesday Night Talks.

Is the hate flowing through you yet? Did you remember to print out your picture of Ryan Appleby? Is your dog currently outside in the rain, and you know damn well he deserves it? Then your hate is at the appropriate level. The NIT may not mean much, but a season series win over Washington and a chance to end their season means a ton. To do it in Seattle? Icing on the cake. No doubt, the Huskies feel the same in reverse. As Darnell Gant said "I want to play Oregon, we owe them."

That certainly isn't the case on offense. Sunday's barrage against Iowa has the Ducks all the way up to 18th in the land in offensive efficiency (114.3), which is just an elite level of ridiculousness. Its much better than that lately, as this includes all those early season games where the offense was putrid. Only the 2007 team (120.3) had a better offense in recent Oregon history. Washington's offense is still very good, at 108.3, but that pales in comparison by a full six points.

Of course, defense is a different story, and the Washington defense is surprisingly good (95.2). This is an interesting stat, as they don't force turnovers, or keep team off the free throw line. However, they contest shots and have been really lucky, as teams only shoot 65% from the free throw line against them. Oregon's defense is headed in the wrong direction (100.5), and we've seen some really bad first halves lately where rotations have been bad and lanes have been open. However, the Ducks have generally adjusted well to have better second halves. On a neutral court, the Ducks would have a one-point edge. In Seattle, Washington becomes the slight favorite.

The Ducks are going to get their shots. It seems that the key for Oregon in the last month and a half has been to make shots. I know that sounds as simple as "it will come down to the team that wants it more," but its not. Oregon has become so elite offensively, that when they make their shots, there is simply no offense in the conference (or in the NIT) that can keep up with them, even if they're playing well. Even when they don't make shots, they score enough to win some games, but as we saw with Colorado and Oregon State, this team doesn't have the kind of defense you can count on late in close games.

This game really comes down to three guys for Washington: Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross, and CJ Wilcox. Wroten is a great scorer, but a terrible shooter, and he turns the ball over a ton. Let Wroten shoot all day, but don't let him drive (and foul him if he does, he only shoots 61%). On the other hand, don't give Wilcox or Ross any room to shoot, because they'll bury it. Washington also gets a ton of points on offensive rebounds, and this worries me with Tony Woods trying to block everything. I'd put Olu on N'Diaye to keep him off the boards. If Oregon can slow down two of Wroten, Ross, and Wilcox, and stay even on the offensive boards, they win the game, go to New York, and end Washington's season. If Oregon makes their shots and slows those guys down? It'll be boatrace time on Lake Washington. Of course, if those things don't happen, it'll also be boatrace time, its just that Lorenzo Romar will be driving the boat.