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Stanford Cardinal Game Preview/Open Thread

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The Huskies have a chance to stay in 2nd place in the conference

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Stanford Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Thursday, 1/13/18

Tip-Off Time: 5:00pm PST

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: KOMO 1000

Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting Line: Washington -4

Stanford 2017-18 Statistics:

Record: 9-8 (3-1)

Points For per Game: 75.5 ppg (118th)

Points Against per Game: 75.6 ppg (234th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.1 (141st)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 99.9 (99th)

Strength of Schedule: 66th

Stanford Key Players:

C- Michael Humphrey, Sr. 6’9, 245: 11.5ppg, 8.1rpg, 0.9bpg, 49.3% FG, 80% FT, 42.9% 3pt

Humphrey is a stretch 4 being asked to play center in most lineups. He’s a good defensive rebounder and can step outside and knock down almost half of his shots beyond the arc.

F- Reid Travis, Jr. 6’8, 245: 20.4ppg, 7.5rpg, 1.5apg, 52.8% FG, 70.7% FT, 25% 3pt

Travis is one of the frontrunners for conference player of the year. He is phenomenal at getting to the line and out-muscling defenders for offensive rebounds. A big storyline in the game will be the battle between him and Dickerson.

F- Kezie Okpala, Fr. 6’8, 195: 12.4ppg, 3.0rpg, 0.8apg, 38.2% FG, 58.1% FT, 22.2% 3pt

Okpala is a high 4-star recruit who was ineligible until just before conference play due to an academics issue. He hasn’t shot the ball well since coming back but has allowed Stanford to play a very tall and rangy lineup and has gotten to the free throw line in bunches.

G- Dorian Pickens, Sr. 6’2, 215: 12.9ppg, 3.9rpg, 2.0apg, 40% FG, 73.9% FT, 37.8% 3pt

Pickens also returned (from injury) for the start of conference play and has made a big impact. He gives the Cardinal a veteran three-point threat and secondary ball handler.

G- Daejon Davis, Fr. 6’3, 175: 9.9ppg, 3.9rpg, 4.3apg, 53.1% FG, 63% FT, 43.5% 3pt

This one hurts. Davis has emerged as the starting point guard for the Cardinal and has mostly excelled both as a distributor and as a shot maker. He also nailed a half court buzzer beater to beat USC last week. The big problem? Turnovers. He’s averaging 4.5 per game. That isn’t a good sign for Stanford against UW’s defense. Although Thursday’s game against Wazzu was his first game without a single turnover.

The Outlook

While I’m a man of analysis, this game may just come down to luck. Stanford started conference play by blowing a 17 point lead at home to Cal when the win probability chart said they had a 99.2% chance to win. Since then they’ve won a double OT game against UCLA, hit a half court buzzer beater to defeat USC, and overcome an 8 point deficit in Pullman when one of Wazzu’s best players got hurt running into a ref who couldn’t move out of the way on a fast break. Meanwhile, UW is #3 in KenPom’s Luck metric. So we’ll see which team still has some left.

The biggest change in luck for Stanford has been getting Okpala and Pickens back in the lineup. On defense it means they can throw out three players at 6’8+ at a time. They’re a mostly conservative team that prefers to play straight up rather than gamble. Stanford doesn’t force many turnovers but they also don’t foul a lot.

On offense, the Cardinal are the opposite. They struggle with turnovers (mainly due to Davis’s attempts to thread the needle too often.) That is a win for UW which is very good at jumping in passing lanes to get steals. However, when Stanford doesn’t turn it over they like to drive to the rim with their size and get to the foul line. If the Pac-12 refs behave like normal Pac-12 refs then you can expect the Huskies to need to weather the storm in availability due to foul trouble. Stanford only shoots about 35% from deep so I expect the Huskies to shade more towards packing the paint and living with Stanford’s 3-point tries.

If you only looked at conference record, the Huskies would have been considered the surprise 3-1 team before the year; not Stanford. Both teams could easily be either 3-1 or 1-3 in conference based on how they’ve played to this point with wild swings between halves. I expect this game to be back and forth but extremely close in the end. That’s usually meant a win for the home team so until they lose one like that, I’m going with the Dawgs.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 71, Stanford Cardinal- 70

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