Game Day Preview: Stanford Cardinal


Stanford University (Private – Research Institution)
Mascot: Cardinal
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Enrollment: 15,300

Current Record: 15-3 (5-1 in Pac-12 Conference)
RPI: 68        SOS: 175

Coach: Johnny Dawkins (4th year)

First Thought: Stanford has been the real surprise of the season so far in the Pac-12. I predicted that they would be a decent team that would have a chance to make the NIT or sneak into the NCAA tournament as a high seed. But, at 15-3 and 5-1 so far in the Pac-12, they certainly have exceeded expectations. Stanford is well known as one of the best academic institutions in the world and they do not lower their entrance requirements for their student-athletes. This has allowed Stanford to acquire talented players with keen intellect and a great understanding of the game. Many of their players were considered strongly by other Pac-12 schools. Examples include Aaron Bright and John Gage from the Seattle area. Both were given long looks by Lorenzo Romar before he decided to go in a different direction. Now both of them are doing well in Palo Alto.

Best Win: 64-52 over Colorado State (RPI 23)
Worst Loss: Last game to WSU and 71-66 to Butler (RPI 101)
Last Game: 81-69 loss to Washington State (RPI 159)

Synopsis: One reason Stanford has not been getting the love from the national media is their weak strength of schedule.  At just 175, this has hurt their RPI (68), despite the gaudy record. One reason Stanford created such a weak schedule is that they are a young team without much of a bench. In fact, the team only has 6 players averaging more than 15 minutes per game.  And while games against local schools like UC Davis (RPI 344) and Pacific (RPI 294) certainly doesn’t help, there is some evidence in games against stronger teams that this team can compete. They played #1 Syracuse to a close 69-63 games. They also beat Colorado State (RPI 23) and NC State (RPI 57). That being said, their loss in Pullman on Thursday is most definitely a bad loss. So, this is a team that has some weaknesses, but is not to be taken lightly.

My analysis: Stanford is lead by three players who average about 12 ppg and nearly 30 min per game. Senior forward Josh Owens is the leader of this club. Sophomore guard Aaron Bright and freshman guard Chasson Randle are both having big years in the backcourt. In addition, 6’6″ wing Anthony Brown is one to watch out for. How this game will go will basically be a story of how the backcourts match up. Will it be Wroten and Gaddy or Bright and Randle stealing the show? Josh Owens is a force to be reckoned with, so can Desmond Simmons stop him? And of course the biggest unknown here is what Terrance Ross will do. If he puts the Huskies on his back, I think the Huskies will win. If he has another so-so  game, then this will probably be a toss up. The advantage the Huskies have is that this one is at Hec Ed and they do not have to go to the Bay Area this season. So, this is an absolutely critical game for both of these teams if they want to stay in the race to win the conference.

Logically I would assume that the Huskies will be more motivated after the close loss to Cal. Stanford on the otherhand lost a game they really should have won, which exposes some potential weaknesses. Before Thursday I would have predicted a close loss for the Dawgs. But, in light of what happened Thursday, I predict a big game by Wroten leading UW to a close win.

My Prediction: UW 77 Stanford 75