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Previewing Stanford Men’s Basketball Trip to Los Angeles

Stanford takes on USC and UCLA this week

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
**Editor’s note - We could use some help covering Stanford Men’s and Women’s Basketball.**

Stanford heads to Los Angeles this week to face two top notch basketball teams: USC and UCLA. Both teams recently lost their only game of the season to Oregon but are still top twenty five teams. In past years, Stanford has competed with the LA schools and hasn’t lost to USC since 2013, but this year, the Cardinal have two tough match ups up ahead.

No one on the USC roster has ever beat Stanford but on Thursday that will most likely change. The twenty fifth ranked Trojans are led by their guards Elijah Stewart and Jordan McLaughlin and have a down low presence in Chimezie Metu. With Metu averaging almost two blocks per game, Reid Travis will have a difficult night in the post, and if Stanford hopes to win, their guards will need to step up. Oregon beat USC with impressive shooting and creating turnovers, and Stanford will need to follow a similar game plan.

Hot shooters Dorian Pickens and Marcus Sheffield will not only have to knock down shots from deep but also defend well. Furthermore, Michael Humphrey might be the difference maker in this game. Last year, he put up big points in some games, and if he can knock down mid range jumpers, Stanford should play USC closely. Ultimately, USC will most likely win since Metu matches up well against Stanford’s best player Travis Reid and Stanford will still have their hands full against USC’s top guards.

UCLA is not the same team that Stanford beat last year. This year, they have Lonzo Ball, who potentially could be the top pick in the NBA draft, and for the Bruins, he has been a huge factor in their turn around as they are currently ranked fourth in the nation. Ball can pass extremely well, and with plenty of scoring options, Ball averages over eight assists per game to help the Bruins score an outstanding average of 94 points per game. On Sunday, Stanford should hope that they don’t get embarrassed. To do so, the Cardinal will need to play good fundamental basketball and not make mistakes. For Stanford to win, Travis Reid will need to have a good game, and the outside shooters will need to get hot, but frankly, if Stanford wins against UCLA, it would be a big upset.

Hopefully, I’m wrong about Stanford getting swept in Los Angeles; I’ll be at both games and have no interest in seeing two losses. Both USC and UCLA are very good this year and could go very far in March. Meanwhile, Stanford has not been able to compete with top teams; Kansas beat Stanford easily, and Arizona destroyed the Cardinal. Still, Stanford has shocked top teams in the past, and maybe, they’ll do it again.

Stanford plays USC on Thursday at 8 PT on PAC-12 Networks and UCLA on Sunday at 5 PT on Fox Sports 1.

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