Bakersfield Beckons For Men's Basketball

The Bootleg's Daniel Novinson presents the faithful his expertise on the Cardinal's final regular season non-conference game of the year versus the Cal State-Bakersfield Roadrunners. Check out the key stats and notes, along with notable alumni of the Central Valley school, as Stanford looks for some momentum after a disappointing loss to Washington on Sunday evening.

Cal-State Bakersfield at Stanford
(Tuesday, 7:30 pm, No TV, Online at GoStanford,com)

Two facts that are perhaps only of interest to me. First, guess who graduated from Bakersfield. Trick question, as the answer is no one I've ever heard of. Wikipedia says their notable alumni are a US Congressman, a California State Senator, a UFC fighter, a world champion wrestler, an MLS soccer player, a soccer player in a Canadian league, a basketball player in a Latvian league and, I'm not making this up, a professional slam poet named Big Poppa E. Kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel there.

Second, name what conference the Roadrunners are in. Another trick question: they're actually independent. As life is tough for independents, only ten of the 342 Division I-A basketball teams haven't found some conference to join. Of the ten old maids, none have an NCAA automatic bid to play for (and with all the squads having RPIs north of 200, they won't be getting in on the merits), and only one – 9-8 Utah Valley State – has a winning record at press time. CSU-B, as they refer to themselves in their fight song, will play 17 road games to just 11 home games this season, partially a byproduct of not having a conference schedule that guarantees an even home-road split for two-thirds of your games.

Okay, enough fluff. Bakersfield is awful. 6-17. An RPI of 321 makes them the lowest-rated team Stanford will face all season. (Then again, Hartford is the second-lowest rated opponent, and they played pretty well.) Bakersfield's best win came against Cal-State Northridge, not exactly a North Carolina in terms of college basketball meccas, and their only road win this year came at 4-18 Pepperdine. The Cardinal will be the only top-100 squad Bakersfield has faced to-date this season, so Stanford's talent and athleticism should catch the Roadrunners by surprise. Bakersfield has lost two straight and to add insult to injury, their official website contains typos.

In marked contrast to the Trent Johnson era, Stanford's done pretty well this year against inferior foes. There's been seemingly little playing down to an opponent's level, as the Card went 10-0 preseason, including 7-2 against the spread. (The two Vegas losses, however, came against Yale and Northern Arizona, two teams as bad as Bakersfield that managed to keep the final margin within ten.)

Bakersfield is led by Trent Blakley (14 points per game) and Santwon Latunde (12 points), but the Roadrunners average only 66 points per game on 40 percent overall and 32 percent three-point shooting. Those are approximately the numbers last year's Stanford squad held its opponents to. The Roadrunners have more turnovers than assists and are -4 in rebounding margin, welcome news for this year's smaller Cardinal squad.

Opponents shoot 46 percent overall and 39 percent deep, so Stanford players should have plenty of good looks and opportunities to rebuild their confidence for the final stretch run. It'll be interesting to try to read between the lines of the box score Wednesday morning and, assuming the game is a blowout, see who Coach Dawkins decided to give lots of minutes to and who led the team in scoring and who led in field-goal attempts. (My guesses: Kenny Brown and Will Paul, Landry Fields, Anthony Goods). After the contest, we can all play armchair sports psychologist and guess why the minutes and the points were so allocated, because I don't think this one will be able to hold our interest strictly because of the basketball.

Stanford in a rout.

Stanford 82, CSU-B 64

Pac-10 Predictions:
Predicted: Stanford 65, Arizona State 60 Actual: Arizona State 90, Stanford 60
Predicted: Arizona 69, Stanford 67 Actual: Stanford 76, Arizona 60
Predicted: Washington 78, Stanford 65 Actual: Washington 84, Stanford 83
Predicted: Stanford 57, Wash. State 53 Actual: Wash. State 55, Stanford 54
Predicted: Stanford 76, Cal 72 Actual: Stanford 75, Cal 69
Predicted: Stanford 75, Oregon 65 Actual: Stanford 77, Oregon 55
Predicted: Stanford 75, Oregon State 58 Actual: Oregon State 77, Stanford 62
Predicted: USC 75, Stanford 68 Actual: USC 70, Stanford 69
Predicted: UCLA 78, Stanford 62 Actual: UCLA 97, Stanford 63
Predicted: Stanford 62, WSU 56 Actual: Stanford 65, WSU 54
Predicted: Washington 89, Stanford 76 Actual: Washington 75, Stanford 68

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