After two road wins, one over Washington State and the other against California, to start off the conference season, Washington now has a chance to beat Stanford for a third road win and a 3-0 start that would begin to build a little buzz around what appeared to be a down season for the Huskies.
However, Stanford is a solid team, and they will have home court advantage. They carry a 10-6 record, with several of the losses against respectable opponents. However, they have started 1-2 in conference play, with one loss against UCLA understandable but they other, against USC, inexcusable. They bounced back with a win against Washington State, but they have shown themselves to be vulnerable.
6’10″ forward Dwight Powell leads the Cardinal in scoring with a 14 ppg average, with the 6’1″ guard Chasson Randle not far behind with a 13 ppg average. It is 6’7″ forward Josh Huestis, however, that logs a team-high 31.8 minutes per game while contributing a rugged 9 points and 9 rebounds per game.
A dive into the statistics of the two teams reveals that Stanford is a better defensive team, giving up .93 points per possession as compared to an even 1.0 ppp for the Huskies, which is 12th in the conference. Though it is worth remembering that Washington has played much better defense in the first few conference games. Offensively, the roles are basically reversed, with the Huskies scoring 1.06 points per possession on offense compared to 1.01 for Stanford, which is 11th in the conference. Stanford has a bit of a rebounding edge, with a rebounding percentage of 54%, 2% higher than Washington’s percentage, but it’s so close that it’s basically a wash.
All that considered, I still think that the Huskies will win this game, though it will be close. Even though this is a road game, the Huskies have serious road momentum right now, and the physicality of their defense has been like day and night compared to early in the year. I’m not really sure where it is coming from, but I think that if continued that energy and confidence will cancel out Stanford’s home advantage. At that point it should still be a very even match, with both teams likely to defend well and take care of their respective defensive glass. However, I believe it is Stanford’s poor shooting that will doom them to a loss in what will be a winnable game. The Cardinal only shoot 40.9% from the field as a team, and the player that takes the most shots each game, Chasson Randle, is only shooting 37%.
In what will likely be a low-percentage game for both teams on offense, I trust guys like Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox to end droughts by burying jumpers a lot more than I trust Randle or Bright to do the same for Stanford. And for that reason, I am giving the edge to Washington.
Washington 67, Stanford 62