After a 17-12 regular season, Stanford finds itself in the 16-team CBI, with tonight's visit from Boise State standing between the Cardinal and the Round of Eight. Fans are understandably disappointed the Card aren't in a more prestigious tournament (and, if history is any judge, the team may well be too – major conference teams often play uninspired and get upset in non-NCAA Tournaments), but the fact is, Stanford is in as good a position as anyone to win this thing.
Consider the KenPom ratings (kenpom.com), which has been the model to most accurately predict NCAA Tournament results in recent years, edging out the Sagarin ratings and easily beating the RPI. Here's how the CBI field looks to them:
151. Boise St. @
103. Northeastern def.
85. Vermont @
81. Green Bay
116. St. John's @
163. Charleston @
The Card is the highest-ranked team in the tournament and would play sub-100 opponents the first two rounds, and quite possibly the last two rounds as well. (By means of comparison, the only other Pac-10 schools to rank below 50 in KenPom are the Oregons.) With the tournament not wanting to compete against the NCAAs, the Card also won't have to play again until next Monday, which should allay concerns about lack of depth. Plus, Stanford's venue has to be as nice as any of these other schools', and so the Cardinal figure to be playing the majority of their games at home.
The only question, of course, is how much that home-court edge will matter, or how much the fans will care (which, in turn, is a proxy for how badly the team wants to win). Stanford is 13-4 at home, but just 5-9 away from Palo Alto. Which Cardinal team shows up to a half-empty Maples tonight?
Anthony Goods leads Stanford with 16 points per game, with Lawrence Hill and Landry Fields adding 13 per game. The Card shoot 46 percent overall, 38 percent deep, and 71 percent from the free throw line, while holding opponents to 48 percent overall and 36 percent three-point accuracy. The Card win their average game 73-69, though they lost four straight before finishing the season with a 3-2 stretch.
Scouting Boise State
Boise State, meanwhile, has lost five of its last seven, including three games in which it was the favorite. The Broncos finished 9-7 in the WAC (19-11 overall), a one-bid league ranked the 12th-best in the nation, or ten spots behind the Pac-10. Their best win came over No. 57 Utah State, the league's lone NCAA entrant, by ten at home, and ugly losses include No. 235 San Francisco, No. 207 Fresno State, and No. 156 Idaho, twice. Stanford will be the highest-ranked team the Broncos have faced all season.
Statistically, the good news for Stanford is that BSU doesn't force a ton of turnovers, gather a ton of offensive rebounds (9.8 per game) or blocks (3.7 per game), or draw a ton of fouls (17 per game) – the latter three all signs of a weak interior game, the one place where Stanford would be vulnerable. The bad news is that BSU does make a high percentage of twos (52 percent), and Stanford does allow teams to shoot 51 percent inside the arc.
BSU wins its average game 73-72, shooting 47 percent overall to opponents' 44 percent. They make 70 percent of their free throws and 35 percent of their threes, while holding opponents to 34 percent deep. Leading scorer Mark "Not the USC quarterback" Sanchez, a 6-7 senior forward, scores 13 points and grabs seven boards per game, while 6-7 sophomore forward Paul Noonan, 6-9 junior center Kurt Cunningham (67 percent overall accuracy!), and 6-0 junior point guard Anthony "Not the NFL running back" Thomas each add 10 points per game.
Wichita State, here we come! Stanford went 10-0 out-of-conference against similarly mediocre teams, and was 5-0 during that stretch as a double-digit favorite. One area where Johnny Dawkins appears to have the clear early edge over Trent Johnson is taking care of business against teams the Card should beat, so look for Stanford to do just that tonight, taking out some of their frustration over the Pac-10 season on the hapless Broncos. Look especially for big games out of Josh Owens, Law Hill, and Will Paul against a team whose tallest regular contributor is 6-7.
Vegas: Stanford 81, Boise State 67 (Stanford -14, Total:
The Bootleg: Stanford 85, Boise State 64
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, Bakersfield 64 Actual: Stanford 85, Bakersfield 50
Predicted: Cal 85, Stanford 74 Actual: Cal 82, Stanford 75
Predicted: Stanford 74, Oregon State 63 Actual: Oregon State 66, Stanford 54
Predicted: Stanford 80, Oregon 65 Actual: Oregon 68, Stanford 60
Predicted: UCLA 82, Stanford 64 Actual: UCLA 76, Stanford 71
Predicted: USC 79, Stanford 74 Actual: Stanford 75, USC 63
Predicted: Arizona State 72, Stanford 56 Actual: Stanford 74, Arizona State 64
Predicted: Arizona 75, Stanford 68 Actual: Arizona 101, Stanford 87
Predicted: Washington 82, Stanford 73 Actual: Washington 85, Stanford 73
Predicted: Stanford 85, Boise State 64
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!