Stanford's hopes of escaping NIT purgatory, Dante's Inferno style, were kept alive by an amazing game winning basket from Chasson Randle last night against the Huskies. With Randle's heroics, Stanford earned another shot at the Utes this evening at 8:30pm (PT) on ESPN.
While The Cardinal's odds of going dancing were long, they were marginally improved with a win last night. Any realistic scenario where Stanford makes the NCAA tournament, however, certainly requires Stanford to pull out a win tonight against Utah. If you will recall Stanford was unable to beat Utah at home earlier in the year. The bulk of last night's performance (or the ten games prior) did little to inspire confidence in a Stanford upset this evening. It is March, however, and crazy things can and sometimes do happen in March.
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Tonight's key matchup may be Stefan Nastic and Jakob Poeltl. Our friends at Block U have a fantastic (albeit Utah centric) breakdown of the keys to tonight's game:
"Tonight, the matchup that matters most might be Utah freshman center Jakob Poeltl against Stanford senior center Stefan Nastic. The Cardinal big put up 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting (62.5 percent) in their first round win over the lowly Huskies, adding five rebounds for good measure. Poeltl has struggled with upper classmen bigs in the stretch run, and he only has three points and one rebound in the last matchup with the Stanford bruiser. The first time out, Poeltl was limited by foul trouble, so backup Dallin Bachynski took over, scoring 13 points and hauling down six rebounds. Both bigs will be required to handle the surging Nastic, who averages 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game."
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