The Washington State Cougars take on one of the worst teams in Division I basketball when they host the Incarnate Word Cardinals on Saturday (4 pm PT, Pac-12 Network). The Cougs picked up a sloppy win over the Florida A&M Rattlers their last time out, and they’ll be looking to tighten things up with Pac-12 play looming.
We’ll take a quick look at today’s matchup, but first If you are looking to follow all the action from Pullman, the Washington State basketball Twitter account has you covered.
Incarnate Word checks in at No. 347 in KenPom’s rankings—out of 353 teams. The Cardinals have yet to pick up a Division I win this season, coming closest when they fell in overtime to the Central Arkansas Bears this past Wednesday.
There isn’t much that Incarnate Word does well. They rank 338th in adjusted offensive efficiency, and 346 in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Cardinals have not topped 1.0 points per possession on offense against Division I competition this season, and have given up less than 1.04 points per possession just once to those same opponents.
Offensively, Incarnate Word is among the worst shooting teams in the nation—338th in adjusted effective field goal percentage. The Cardinals also turn the ball over frequently, don’t grab many offensive rebounds, and don’t shoot many free throws.
The best thing they do is force turnovers—about average nationally. WSU struggled to hold onto the ball against Florida A&M, turning it over 26 percent of the time. If Incarnate Word is able to provide the same pressure, that can be a boost to not only its offense but also allow it to pick up transition buckets.
That’s exactly how FAMU kept from being completely blown out of the gym against Wazzu. and that’s the only way this game will be kept below a 20-point Cougar win. Look for WSU to dominate the glass on both ends and force the issue inside for some easy points and free throw attempts. Incarnate Word just doesn’t have the size to stop anyone in the paint, even a relatively small Washington State squad.
KenPom predicts WSU to win 97 percent of the time with an average score of 80-59. This should be a tough one for the Cougs to screw up, and should be an easy Saturday leading into a nice break for Christmas.