Washington Preview

All eyes in the Pac are focused on LA this week, where the Arizonas will visit for four huge games. Cardinal eyes are set on the final two weeks against the LA and Arizona schools. Let's hope the Stanford team is more focused on Thursday's game in Seattle, where an erratic but talented Husky squad lies in waiting. Simon Sez Doug Wrenn will be a tough man to contain.

After the events of last weekend, the season has new life for Stanford. With a thrilling 100-97 overtime victory over Oregon and a methodical 77-55 victory over Oregon State, a fourth straight Pac-10 title is in sight. The way this season is going, teams ranked 3-15 in the polls seem to lose routinely. With Stanford's sudden surge to 12th in the AP poll, a team that looked like it could be heading to the bubble could now be thinking of a four, three and hey maybe a one seed if a lot of things fall their way. As Jon Wilner has told us all year, a team with 18 total victories and 11 conference victories seems to always make the tournament. With the Pac-10 so competitive it is a near-must to get wins from the two teams that are once again having poor seasons. The Huskies have been somewhat impressive at home with close a game against Arizona and a victory against Oregon. While they have been completely non-competitive on the road, the Huskies usually give teams a game in their house. This will be a homecoming for three Stanford players: Curtis Borchardt, Teyo Johnson and Tyler Besecker. Here are the line-ups I expect to see with the ever-adjusting Stanford starting five:

PG - Tony Giovacchini 6-2 180 lbs vs. Justin Allen 6-0 170 lbs 12 PPG

True, there have been many doubters of Tony on the HoopsBoard, but last Thursday was a sight to see. I myself have to admit that at times I have wondered why Tony starts games, but I really felt good for him. There is a difference between wondering why a guy gets minutes and rooting against a guy. It seems people on the HoopsBoard have almost come to a point of rooting against Tony, which just isn't right. I was able to talk to Tony after the game and this shot meant the world to him. It has been very evident that he has been feeling a ton of heat this season (maybe he reads the board?) and this shot really took a lot of pressure off of him. He didn't have a great game against Oregon State, but he seemed to play a lot looser, not trying to do too much and prove why he is starting. He now faces Justin Allen who has had a decent season for himself. He is rather quick and has been able to score 12 points per game against some good Pac-10 point guards. He could be a tough matchup for Tony, as are all quicker guards. Allen didn't play much of a role in the other Washington game but has been a good player this season. Advantage: Justin Allen

SG- Julius Barnes 6-1 180 lbs 10.4 PPG vs Erroll Knight 6-7 205 lbs 6.6 PPG

This was an interesting matchup the first time these teams met. Knight has six inches on Julius but not much more weight. Knight is a very skinny freshman who seemed to be constantly out of control. He also lost his cool a couple times at Maples and committed some bad fouls. He made some pretty nice plays, which shows that he has some real upside. Barnes has once again been up and down, but has brought energy to the defensive end. Julius has been playing more point guard, which has produced mixed results. Sometimes the team looks like it can play with anyone, and other times it looks very flat. The bottom line here is that in the matchup tomorrow, Barnes had has the advantage as a playmaker. Advantage: Julius Barnes

SF - Casey Jacobsen 6-6 210 lbs 22 PPG vs. Doug Wrenn 6-8 220 lbs 20.4 PPG 6.2 RPG

This is by far the marquee matchup of the game. Wrenn and Jacobsen at this point are playing the best out of anyone in the Pac-10. That should equal a lot of points for both players in this game, as both of their teams have almost relied on them to keep them afloat. Wrenn is coming off two solid games in Arizona, scoring 25+ each time. He is very slippery in the lane and can break almost anyone down. I couldn't believe that he is only a sophomore (transfer aside), definitely NBA 1st round material when he feels like leaving Seattle. This could be the best matchup in college basketball this weekend with two 20+-point scorers going at it. Jacobsen has been playing at a level that made him look like another number 23 of late. He has been scoring all over the court, hitting driving lay-ups and long three's. He cooled off a bit in the Oregon State game but will most likely hit his stride again against the Washington schools. Advantage: Casey Jacobsen

PF - Teyo Johnson 6-7 240 lbs vs. Grant Leep 6-7 230 lbs 8 PPG

This is a matchup that will most likely be forgotten. Montgomery has started a revolving door of power forwards and it seems like one steps up each game. Against Oregon it was Joe Kirchofer and against Oregon State it was definitely Teyo. Two guys who seem to be falling out of the rotation are Rob Little and Justin Davis. Davis played only four minutes against Oregon State and they were the final two minutes of each half. Little just doesn't seem to bring much off the bench lately, and isn't playing too much either as a result. Hopefully those guys can get it going because Stanford will need them now and in March!! Anyway, Teyo came off the bench against the Beavers and made a big impact. He scored 15 points and grabbed four offensive rebounds. He hasn't put together two impressive games in a row yet this season, which hopefully will change Thursday. Leep is a guy who also hasn't made a huge impact this season. He is a good three-point shooter but isn't a big low post threat or rebounder. Hard to say who will win this matchup, as you don't really know who will even play!! Advantage: Push

C - Curtis Borchardt 7-1 240 lbs 16.3 PPG 11 RPG vs. David Dixon 6-11 270 lbs 8 PPG 8 RPG

Curtis once again put together back to back double double's this weekend and showed why he is a top post player in the country. It is a real shame that Nick Collison got nominated for player of the year over Borchardt. Taking nothing away from Collison, but Borchardt does average more points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. Other than that they are about equal. Anyway, Dixon has been a decent low post threat this year as he shed about 40 lbs over this past off-season. He as a result has been more active and more athletic in the post. He is a rebounding threat but still is having trouble with his back to the basket. He will get a few baskets a game but isn't usually a difference maker. Advantage: Curtis Borchardt

Overall this is a big weekend for Stanford. Holding the number 12 ranking, they could probably crack the top 10 this week with two Washington victories. Washington has been competitive occasionally, but ever since their Elite 8 game in '98 they have fallen off the basketball map. Doug Wrenn has turned into a great player but he can only take them so far. Look for this game to potentially stay close for a short time, but for Stanford to take it handily in the second half. Advantage: Stanford 89-72

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