Stanford Preview

One of the nation's biggest surprises thus far, the Arizona State Sun Devils (14-2, 4-0) are currently riding a 10-game winning streak and have an unblemished record in conference play. After a thrilling double-overtime victory in Berkeley on Thursday over Cal, the Devils take a ride across the Bay Bridge and into Palo Alto to take on the perennially strong Stanford Cardinal.

Stanford (14-3, 3-2) is regaining its premier status among the elite in not only the Pac-10 but in the country and that is due in large part to the towering Lopez twins – Brook and Robin – and a balanced attack on both ends of the floor that allows Stanford to really dictate the tempo.

Arizona State is having a dream season so far but will be really put to the test when they face the most disciplined team in the conference next to UCLA and having to do so on the road no less. The Sun Devils proved some doubters wrong with a win over Cal that showed the youthful squad could win away from the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena. However, Maples Pavilion, the home of the Cardinal, is a daunting place for any opponent and ASU will need to avoid a letdown after an exhausting win and put the petal to the metal if they want to prevail.

Head Coach – Trent Johnson – 4th season (56-43 at Stanford)

Projected Starters

PG – Mitch Johnson – (6.2 PPG, 5.0 APG)
SG – Anthony Goods – (12.2 PPG, 40% 3PT)
SF – Fred Washington – (6.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
PF – Lawrence Hill – (9.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG)
C – Brook Lopez – (17.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Landry Fields
F – Taj Finger
C – Robin Lopez

Overview

When James Harden stepped foot on campus, there was some excitement for Arizona State basketball for the first time in over a decade and the expectations were simple: save the program, and while those expectations were ridiculous, what is even more incredible is that, while still premature, Harden has met them and is tinkering on the border of exceeding them and a win that would propel a road sweep just might do it. Harden has scored 20+ in five straight contests and a career-best 27 at Cal.

Stanford is one of the most dangerous teams in the country because of their size. With the Lopez twins, Lawrence Hill, and Taj Finger all rotating down low, the Devils will have to play fundamentally sound and stretch out the defense to succeed. Aside from their size, Stanford is a suffocating defensive squad and they have solid depth and leadership.

Guards

The matchup between the backcourts will be interesting to watch because of how similar they appear on paper. Mitch Johnson is a solid point guard that keeps the team under control much like Derek Glasser and Anthony Goods is athletic and dangerous from downtown much like Ty Abbott. For what it is worth, I believe Abbott will be the key player in this game after his stunning performance against Cal with 7 treys and 25 points overall.

Edge – Even

Forwards

For Stanford, Lawrence Hill and Fred Washington are excellent players that play well on both ends of the floor and Washington will likely get the assignment of defending Harden. Hill will go up against Jerren Shipp and Antwi Atuahene in what may be the best chance for Stanford to take advantage of their size. Nonetheless, Cal had a similar size advantage but the Devils' heady play and help defense had them eventually out rebound the Bears.

Slight Edge – ASU

Centers

While I can't say enough good things about Jeff Pendergraph, the Sun Devils heart and soul will be going up against an absolutely polished big man in Brook Lopez. The Stanford big man was academically ineligible to begin the season but his return in December really sparked the Cardinal. His ability to step out and hit from mid-range and also rebound and block at an elite level, will be tough to stop. Pendergraph was simply masterful against Cal and if he can avoid foul trouble, he will make Lopez work.

Slight Edge – Stanford

Final Score – Stanford 75 ASU 70 (Only because Stanford will be at home)

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