On the heels of a crushing loss to the Arizona Wildcats to cap its regular season, the Stanford Cardinal learned its foe in this week's Pac-12 Tournament: the 8th-seeded Washington Huskies. Stanford will travel to Las Vegas to play a Wednesday matinee (12:00 PST tip) against the Huskies MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Hopefully for the Cardinal, what happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas, as miraculous tournament run could give them an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. However, it's unlikely for ninth-seeded Stanford, which finished right where it was expected to this season, picked ninth in the preseason Pac-12 media poll.
After a scorching streak in which they rattled off four wins in five games, including a win against #11 Oregon, the Cardinal endured a hellish trip to the Arizona desert, dropping both contests. Stanford was utterly dominated on the glass, with the two Arizona schools combining to outscore Stanford 22-2 on second chance points.
Stanford will have to be more physical than it has recently if it wants to move on past Washington. In their only meeting with the Huskies this season, Stanford struggled to contain guard Dejounte Murray, allowing him to score 25 points and pull down 9 rebounds, keying a 64-53 Washington victory. The Huskies were the more physical team in that matchup, blocking eight Cardinal shots, and Stanford paid the price.
To make matters worse, the Huskies were without the Pac-12's leading scorer, point guard Andrew Andrews at full strength in that game, who was hobbling with a knee strain. Dorian Pickens will likely be tasked with guarding Andrews, without Christian Sanders' support. Sanders played in tandem with Pickens at point guard until he was suspended indefinitely for an unspecfied violation of team rules before the team's most recent road trip.
Leaving Maples Pavillion has proven a difficult task for Stanford, which has won just three of its twelve road games this season. Stanford will have to find a way to rid itself of its road demons in Vegas if it wants to make a Cinderella run to the NCAA tournament, especially given they'll have to take on first-seeded Oregon if they beat Washington.