Despite a gut-wrenching loss Thursday in Corvallis, Stanford still find themselves in the projected tourney field. A number of bracketologists, including Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm, have them in the field of 64. Most at least have them in the First Four.
Stanford’s best win to date is their ten point win over the Ducks in Maples. They held Oregon without a field goal for more than ten minutes, and served up a frustrating day for NPOY candidate Payton Pritchard. It didn’t even have the look of a significant upset, as the Cardinal were simply the better team that day. But winning in Knight Arena is a different animal.
Oregon enters as an 8 point home favorite two days after blistering Cal by 34. They’ll be without the services of Chris Duarte. As a JuCo transfer, he may not have the name recognition of some of their other stars, but he’s a vital piece of the team. Duarte ranks second in scoring, second in rebounding, first in steals, and second in blocks for the Ducks. He drew a lot of attention from the Cardinal defense in the first matchup. With him out, Bryce Wills and Daejon Davis can key in more on Pritchard and Will Richardson, who are the only two serious playmaking threats left.
The Ducks still boast a talented roster, and athletic big man N’faly Dante is back from an injury that held him out of the first meeting. Expect Dana Altman to go big, and put a significant emphasis on crashing the glass.
Oscar da Silva had 27 and 15 in the February meeting, exploiting the slower feet of the Oregon interior defenders. What will Altman change up to slow him down? It’s conceivable Dante will make a difference, though he’s not been playing big minutes. Oscar vs their bigs is the matchup to watch, and one Stanford needs to win if they want to come out with a victory.
Should Stanford pull the road upset, they’ll find themselves firmly in the field. If they lose, they’ll likely need to win at least two games in Las Vegas to be feeling good come Selection Sunday. They haven’t knocked off a ranked team on the road since 2014, but they’ll have no problems getting up for this game. It should be a fun one.
Because the NCAA insists on using discrete ‘quadrants’ when evaluating wins and losses, Stanford’s fortunes could change by some of their opponents moving a spot or two in the NET.
UCLA currently sits at 77th, with a big game today against USC for the conference title. If they can move up two more spots, Stanford’s January win in Pauley becomes a Q1 win.
Oklahoma currently sits at 45th after a stunning loss to Texas. They need to stay top 50 for Stanford’s win over them in KC to count as Q1.
Washington is up to 62nd after a road upset of ASU, so Stanford’s win in Seattle is likely safe as a Q1.
Oregon State is 73rd, and needs to beat Cal to stay top 75. The Cardinal missed their chance at knocking off the Beavers, but they’d rather have Thursday’s loss count as Q1 than Q2.
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Stanford fans should cheer for the bolded teams
Oregon State vs Cal
This helps the loss at OSU stay Quad 1, and the loss at home stay Q2. This could have huge ripples for the optics of Stanford’s resume.
Oklahoma St vs Texas
The Longhorns moved into the field after coming from behind in a furious last-second rally against Oklahoma. Their margin for error isn’t big, though, and a home loss to OK State wouldn’t help their cause.
UCLA vs USC
A UCLA victory would likely move them into the top 75, whereas the road loss to USC is going to stay a Quad 2 regardless of what the Trojans do the rest of the way.
Temple vs Cincinnati
Cincinnati still has at-large hopes, but a home loss to Temple would put them on life support.
Kansas vs Texas Tech
TTU has a weird resume, with a large glut of their wins coming against Q4 competition. Some bracketologists think they’re right on the bubble. A win over Kansas would put them in the field, but a loss would keep things interesting.
Wisconsin vs Indiana
The Hoosiers need this win to stay on the right side of the bubble. A lot can change in their tournament, since most B10 teams are Quad 1 on a neutral court, but this loss would hurt.
Oklahoma vs TCU
This would keep Oklahoma safely in the top 50, and also safely in the field. Wins over tournament teams aren’t on the team sheets, of course, but it’s reportedly something that gets floated.
VMI vs East Tennessee State
ETSU is a near lock, though perhaps a loss to VMI would change that (like Northern Iowa’s loss to Drake did). Still, Stanford and the rest of the bubble would rather see the Bucs win the SoCon tourney and avoid someone like Furman stealing a bid.
Utah State vs San Diego State
It’s possible the Aggies are in even with a loss, but their resume could really go either way. A loss by them opens the door to the MWC only getting a single bid, but a win locks up the second.
Butler vs Xavier
Xavier sits precariously on the bubble, and a win over Butler would move them closer to being a lock. The fact that Stanford has played Butler also makes this decision easier.
Rutgers vs Purdue
Rutgers can’t seem to win away from home, which could be the undoing of their otherwise fairly strong resume. If they miss out on this opportunity, things start to get a bit hairy for them.
Mississippi State vs Mississippi
The path for MSU is already difficult, but losing to their rival probably makes it infeasible.
Arkansas vs Texas A&M
If the Aggies win this one, the Hogs are likely cooked.