Stanford at Oregon State (Thursday, 7 p.m., No
Oregon State to Date
The Fighting Obamas are 11-13 overall and 5-8 in the Pac-10, or a half-game ahead of the 15-8, 4-8 Cardinal in the chase for eighth in the conference. (This game is actually a likely preview of a Wednesday 8/9 matchup in the Pac-10 Tournament.) Forward Calvin Haynes leads with 15 points per game, while guards Rickey Claitt (seven points, 60 percent overall) and Seth Tarver (seven points, 57 percent overall) are the only Beavers making more than they miss.
Oregon State and their opponents each shoot about 45 percent overall and 35 percent deep. OSU loses its average game 62-59, giving up two rebounds and a turnover more than its average opponent. OSU also shoots only 63 percent from the line, so Stanford needs to be aggressive and physical defensively.
Stanford was decidedly unaggressive in the paint in the teams' first meeting, a 77-62 OSU victory that marked the low point of Stanford's season. OSU shot 62 percent overall and 50 percent deep, led by 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting from Haynes. Josh Owens and Will Paul combined for one rebound in 29 minutes of play. Anthony Goods had 15 points on as many shots to lead the Card.
Vegas: Stanford -4.5.
Prediction: I don't want to let a recent hot spell get to my head and start speaking out of my pay grade, but Stanford should be favored by more. Consider…
1. Luck is disproportionately influencing fans' perceptions of both teams. A Stanford team that had made three more shots over the course of the season would be imperceptibly better than the present squad, yet if those three shots had come against the Washingtons and USC, Stanford would be 18-5 and a likely eight seed. How different would we feel about this team?
Oregon State is 4-2 in Pac-10 games decided by four or less. For a team that's under .500 overall, that's pretty lucky. Stanford, meanwhile, is 0-3 in close Pac-10 games. If you look at Ken Pomeroy's ratings, the gold standard for computer rankings as they actually account for margin of victory (unlike the RPI), Stanford's 49th versus 86th in the RPI. Oregon State's 138th in both rankings.
2. Oregon State hasn't topped 60 since late January, when they scored 77 on Stanford and 65 on Cal-State Bakersfield.
3. Oregon State actually has a better resume on the road than at home. Three of their five conference wins, Cal, Stanford and Washington State, came on the road. Stanford's performance is about the same at and away from Maples. (I know the Card are 4-3 at home and 0-5 on the road in conference, but the records should be closer after this weekend's over.) Also, Oregon State has no home-court advantage. That arena is dead.
4. Vegas has been seriously out-of-whack this season. Stanford, quickly backsliding into obscurity, is 14-7 against the spread. Does anyone feel like Stanford's has greatly exceeded expectations this year, that the Cardinal are seven games ahead of where we thought they'd be preseason? Vegas doesn't respect Stanford nearly enough.
Meanwhile, Oregon State is just 9-10 against the spread, even though they're one of the biggest surprise stories in the league. Did anyone see them walking out of the Bay with a sweep, or beating Arizona by 16 and Washington State by 11? Yet, somehow, the Beavers are just one game better against the spread than straight up in Pac-10 play. How is this possible? Vegas respects Oregon State entirely too much.
More broadly, college basketball is the sport where an individual bettor can most punish the house, as it's impossible to set perfect lines on 50 games every night. This seems to be happening here.
So to borrow from Mad Money, we are "BUY BUY BUY "on Stanford basketball the rest of this season. This team is better than its record or fan opinion indicates, and the market (i.e. the standings) are due for an adjustment. Will that be enough for the Card to make the NCAA Tournament or play the conference big boys close? Probably not, but it should be plenty to hang on against Oregon State.
Prediction: Stanford 74, Oregon State 63
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
Predicted: Stanford 82, Cal State-Bakersfield 64 Actual: Stanford 85, Bakersfield 50
Predicted: Cal 85, Stanford 74 Actual: Cal 82, Stanford 75
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