Jerod Haase called Sunday’s victory over Cal a “team win.” As two starters fouled out, other players turned in solid performances. There were moments when it seemed Cal was turning the tide, but the gritty Cardinal gutted it out to down the Bears.
After another wild week in the conference, Stanford finds itself in a tie for fifth place. The top four in the conference receive first round byes in the conference tournament in Vegas. This bye is valuable, as no team has won four games in four days in the PAC 12 tournament. Stanford’s slim NCAA tournament hopes depend on making a run in Sin City.
Coming to town on Thursday is a Washington squad that is tied in the standings with Stanford. After upset wins over Arizona State and Arizona two weeks ago, many saw Washington as a tournament team and perhaps even a contender for the conference title, considering their favorable schedule in the homestretch. The Huskies proceeded to drop three straight games before bouncing back against Colorado.
In the first matchup between Stanford and Washington in Seattle, Daejon Davis played through seas of boos to lead the Cardinal to a big road victory. This Husky team, though reeling, is dangerous. Jaylen Nowell, Davis’ high school teammate, leads the Huskies in scoring. Big man Noah Dickerson has been (for the most part) playing exceptional basketball lately. Matisse Thybulle is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year in the conference. With wins over Kansas and Arizona, and their bubble hopes on the line, expect the Huskies to give the Cardinal all they can handle.
On Saturday Stanford faces Washington State. The Cougars are tied for last in conference play, but are coming off a solid home stand where they beat Colorado and played Utah tight. In the first meeting between these teams, Stanford quelled WSU’s hot shooting in the second half by using Kezie Okpala to erase Malachi Flynn. The Cougs can still be dangerous on any given night depending on the accuracy of their marksmen, as they boast four rotation players shooting in excess of 40% from distance. Robert Franks made 10 threes in a game earlier this year and is a possible NBA prospect.
Stanford will likely be the betting favorite against both of this weekend’s opponents. The conference standings are cluttered, so each win has major seeding implications for the conference tournament, including the four byes. Holding serve this weekend will go a long way toward success in Vegas.