U$C Preview

Simon Sez the matchups at the five positions are awfully close for Thursday's game against U$C. Two go to each team, with one push. So how can the Card come out on top in the rematch of the game where Stanford turned over the ball 27 times in LA? Read on.

If there has been a more important weekend of basketball at Maples Pavilion in the Montgomery era, someone please tell me. So much is on the line this weekend it is tough where to begin. First, Stanford is tied for the Pac-10 lead with USC and Oregon; UCLA, Arizona and Cal are right behind. There is no room for a rough game - just ask Arizona. They entered last weekend in 1st place and left LA in 4th, only a half game out of 6th. There is also NCAA tournament seeding on the line, as Stanford's national ranking has risen to ten. With two more big victories they could start to creep toward the top five. Their RPI will surely go up if they can get some victories this weekend, and with that 4th one seed up for grabs, who says Stanford can't make a run for it? Maybe a one seed isn't in the cards but a two very well could be. Who would have thought with all the growing pains this team has had that we could be talking about such high seed?. It is no easy task as USC and UCLA come to town, with two tough games surely ahead. Last year, USC gave Stanford all it could handle and everyone knows what happened when UCLA came. USC is sure to be a tough team to handle as they forced Stanford into 27 turnovers in the previous meeting. Here are the two starting lineups you can expect to take the floor on Thursday night with one small change for USC:

PG - Tony Giovacchini 6-2 180 lbs vs. Brandon Granville 5-9 175 lbs 13 PPG

This matchup wasn't very good in the first matchup as Granville often bottled up Tony on the press. Tony has had a lot of trouble in his games after "The Shot" and his playing time is showing. In his last game against Washington State he played 21 minutes and didn't get an assist or a point. Marcus Moore was scoring at will and Tony was in foul trouble. To say the least it was a game that Tony would definitely like to forget. Granville played a large role in the USC win over Arizona and has been automatic from the free throw line. Not a spectacular player but a very solid one. Look for him to have the upper hand in this matchup, though. Advantage: Brandon Granville

SG - Julius Barnes 6-1 180 lbs 10 PPG vs. Errick Craven 6-2 170 lbs 11.5 PPG

This matchup was a disaster as well in southern California, as Barnes was pressured into many turnovers by Craven. To protect Barnes he was often asked to dribble the ball through five guys on the press, but still Craven cause huge problems. Craven is very strong for a freshmen and is a big time talent. Very athletic and is one of the reasons USC presses so much. Barnes has once again been very up and down but seemed to find his stroke in Pullman. He hit four three pointers, including his first three. He needs to have a big game for Stanford to win, with USC likely guarding Curtis and Casey tight. Stanford really needs that third scorer this game, and how Barnes plays really affects Stanford. Don't expect Craven to be as effective on the press but by no means forget about him!! Advantage: Push

SF - Casey Jacobsen 6-6 210 lbs 22.5 PPG vs. David Bluthenthal 6-7 220 12 PPG 7 RPG

Well, this game is on a Thursday right! OK, then - Casey will just have to light up the scoreboard again. His last three Thursday games have been49, 41, and 31, which is just unreal. At this point it is tough to describe how well this guy is playing. I don't think one can just give the Player of the Year to Jason Williams if Casey leads Stanford to a Pac-10 title. He is the reason why Stanford is where they are and is just unbelievable at times. He has pushed his scoring average to 22.5 points per game and it keeps going up. Look for Casey to go crazy again, but he will have to shoot over a defender which is something he is not used to. Bluthenthal isn't very quick and Casey could take advantage. Speaking of Bluthenthal, he is coming off his best weekend in the Pac-10 season. When Stanford played SC last, he was in a huge slump and only played around 20 minutes. Now he doesn't come off the court and is hitting big shots. Couldn't come at a worse time for Stanford fans but there is hardly any small forward that can match with Casey now. Advantage: Casey Jakes

PF - Teyo Johnson 6-7 240 lbs vs. Sam Clancy 6-7 240 lbs 19.3 PPG 10 RPG

This is where Stanford fans should be very very afraid. Not that Teyo has struggled but he is running into a beast known as Sam Clancy. Clancy has established himself as a top post player as well as one of the best in the nation. He is huge, which makes him very tough under the basket. He is hitting mid-range shots and is very tough on the press. On top of it all, he is making free throws now as well! He has ten straight double-doubles and it seems like he will be a very tough cover. Don't look for Borchardt to guard Clancy until maybe the end of the game, to prevent C-Bo from getting in foul trouble. Clancy was also the reason why the USC press killed Stanford in LA, as he is a huge obstacle guarding the ball. Teyo had a nice Washington weekend and seems to have some kind of hold on the starting power forwards spot ,which is saying something. Clancy though will be tough to stop. Advantage: Sam Clancy

C - Curtis Borchardt 7-1 240 lbs 16.3 PPG 11.3 RPG vs. Rory O'Neill 6-11 200 lbs

Kostas Charrisis looks like he will not be playing in this game, so Rory O'Neill, a true freshmen will take his place. Either way Borchardt has a monumental advantage and should touch the ball on every possession. O'Neill is tall but not very skilled yet and shouldn't be able to handle Curtis. Curtis continues to be dominant on offensive and is blocking shots at a blistering pace. Ten more last weekend already adds to his Stanford single-season record, set about four games ago. Curtis now is the third leading rebounder in the nation at 11.3 per game and is grabbing the nation's attention. He missed the last USC game and I think his presence will provide a huge boost for Stanford on the press and on the defensive end ,which was torn to shreds by USC last matchup. The Trojans scored 60 points in the second half!!!. Curtis needs to get the ball early and often, and it doesn't take a genius to see he has a huge advantage. Advantage: Curtis Borchardt in a landslide.

Overall, who can't be excited about this weekend's games? This is a huge weekend for the team and we will all see just how far they have come. Maples has been the place to be of late, and this weekend should be no different. Everyone make sure your tickets are being used and let's fill up Maples!!! I see this being very tight the whole game, similar to the Oregon game, but being in our house Stanford pulls it out in the end. Advantage: Stanford 85-79

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