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Stanford Men's basketball: USC Trojans Preview

The Stanford Cardinal Men's basketball team will host the USC Trojans.

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, if you heard Stanford was the underdog against USC at home, you would be shocked. However, this year, USC has emerged from a lowly PAC-12 team into a tournament team. On Thursday night, Stanford basketball will take on USC at 8 PT at Maples Pavilion. Both teams are coming off tough losses, and USC is hoping for a strong finish to the regular season headed into the Conference and NCAA tournaments. Stanford, meanwhile most likely needs to win the PAC-12 tournament in order to reach March Madness.

For Stanford to win the game, they need to dominate the paint and shoot the ball well. Recently, USC was dominated by Utah's center, Jakob Poeltl. Throughout the year, USC has struggled guarding the big man down low, but with Reid Travis hurt, Stanford does not really have a dependable post player. Unless Grant Verhoeven or Freshman Josh Sharma have career games, Stanford probably has to look to other options to win the game. They'll need to shoot the ball well and in the past, Stanford losses have occurred because of bad shooting. Stanford will have to look to Rosco Allen, Dorian Pickens, and Michael Humphrey. If Stanford can knock down shots, they'll have a chance.

Defensively, Stanford will be challenged on Thursday. USC averages 82.4 points per game and have six players averaging in double figures. Specifically, Stanford will need to shut down USC guard Jordan McLaughlin. McLaughlin has shown the ability to not only score but pass as well. Shutting McLaughlin down will be a key aspect to Thursday's game and will most likely be a task for Junior guard Marcus Allen.

On another note, this game is likely a must win for Coach Dawkins. His job seems to be on the line, and at this point, every game seems to be closer to his last. If he can finish the season with a winning streak, his job could be resurrected. Be sure to watch Stanford take on USC Thursday on PAC 12 Networks at 8 PT.