Card visit Corvallis in CBI Semis

Whichever team loses tonight, Stanford or 3.5-point underdog Oregon State, will have no shortage of possible explanations -- bad luck, bad officiating, poor shooting, you name it. One reason they won't be able to cite, however, is inexperience. With the squads colliding for a fourth time this season, The Bootleg thinks it has its finger right on the pulse of both teams. Read on for our analysis...

Stanford at Oregon State (Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. PT, HDNet)

The Basics

Stanford defeated Wichita State Monday (70-56) and Boise State a week ago (96-76) to advance to the CBI semifinals. The Card now stand at 20-13, one win away from a best-of-three finals series against the winner of Richmond and UTEP. Or, for the graphically inclined, our current field looks like this:

Updated CBI field (All ratings are Ken Pomeroy ratings.)

43. Stanford @
115. Oregon State

79. UTEP @
111. Richmond

[Side note: Dear CBI, please learn how to properly design a bracket. Microsoft Paint, it comes with your PC for free.  The top half of this page had the majority of the country thinking Stanford was playing UTEP since, you know, there's another postseason college basketball tournament about this time of year with some fan interest that sets up its brackets like that.]

[Side note two: Speaking of other postseason college basketball tournaments, see about 45 seconds into this video for the best ending to a college basketball game I've seen, courtesy the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.]

Oregon State's Path

The Fighting Obamas started 2008-09 much the way they ended 2007-08, suffering their three worst losses of the season in their first four games: at No. 330 Howard, and vs. No. 241 Yale and No. 231 Montana State. An overtime win over USC was viewed as a fluke when the Beavers dropped to 1-5 to start Pac-10 play, but then the proverbial light went off (went on?) in Corvallis. Oregon State won four straight, sweeping their Bay Area road trip, Cal State Bakersfield and archrival Oregon, ended up sweeping the Bay Area schools in Corvallis as well, and ended the Pac-10 season a respectable 7-11, and 13-16 overall. Stanford ended Oregon State's Pac-10 Tournament in the opening round, but the Beavers rallied to squeak past No. 69 Houston (49-45) and No. 84 Vermont (71-70 in overtime), both at home, in the CBI.

Oregon State: Parts I, II and III

I feel like I'm reviewing the Godfather here, given how many sequels we have. By the way, I wonder what the record is for most times two teams met in the same season? I'd guess four (two regular season games, then a conference tournament and then the NCAA, for say, a Duke and a North Carolina), but if you add in a preseason NIT or Maui Invitational, I suppose five games would be possible.

Well, unlike the Godfather, this series has gotten better with each sequel, at least from a Stanford fan's perspective. The Beavers won round one, 77-62 in Palo Alto, and round two, 66-54 in Corvallis, but the Card took round three in the Staples Center, 62-54, as previously mentioned.
Along with the ability to crack lame Godfather references, another benefit from the fact that this is the fourth meeting of the Card and Beavers is that the series statistics are practically approaching scientific significance. Over 120 minutes, these teams have probed each other for every strength and weakness, and the resultant numbers allow us to draw several conclusions:

Anthony Goods (23 points, 15 points, zero points) should be able to score, unless he slips into the funk that seems to grip him a game or two each season (see: Texas, 2008 NCAAs). I know, heady stuff, but the numbers say Goods is as streaky against the Beavers as anyone.

Landry Fields (19 points, 14 points, 12 points, 15-of-30 overall shooting), meanwhile, is remarkably consistent and accurate against Oregon State. Pencil him in for a double-figure game.

Oregon State's been a two-man team against the Card: Calvin Haynes outside and Roeland Schaftenaar inside. Schaftenaar has averaged 19 points per game on this year's Card, and has shot 20 total free throws and dished out eight assists in the series. Haynes, meanwhile, was 16-of-29 for a total of 42 points in the Beavers' two wins, but Stanford shut him down at Staples, holding him to just seven points on 2-of-11 shooting. How his day goes strongly predicts how the Beavers fare as a team.
 
Stanford has really struggled from deep against the Beavers, shooting 30 percent overall (22-of-73), and no better than 36 percent in any game. The Card also put up way too many threes given their lack of success deep against Oregon State, averaging over 24 attempts per game. Both the number and contested nature of the threes speaks to Stanford having difficulty establishing traction offensively in the paint.

Indeed, Law Hill and Josh Owens have both been quiet against Oregon State, totaling 40 points in the teams' three contests, or under seven points per post per game. Owens deserves additional attention for his combined 8-of-9 mark against the Beavers. he needs to establish better position or pull aside Mitch Johnson for some harsh words, because he needs to be getting the ball and shooting it more.

Stanford's tallied far more assists than Oregon State: 16 to nine, on average, which is doubly impressive given that Oregon State is winning the season series.

Oregon State has managed more rebounds (28 to 22, on average) than Stanford, and more free throw attempts too (18 to 11, on average), thanks largely to a discrepancy in the second contest, in February. To the Card's credit, however, Stanford has beaten Oregon State a combined 22-18 on the offensive boards, perhaps the Card's single biggest weakness on the season.

Prediction

It stands to reason that the young Cardinal would have a steeper learning curve this season than Oregon State. After all, Stanford started in a deeper hole given the departures of Lopez, Lopez, Finger, Washington and Trent Johnson, so as the season has progressed, Oregon State has provided a useful barometer against which the Card could measure their progress. Oregon State was probably closer to their full potential when they won the series' first two games than the Card were, but as Stanford has continued to develop, the Card took the Pac-10 Tournament opener in Staples rather easily, and have looked much better in the CBI than Oregon State, winning their two CBI games by a combined 34 points, compared to Oregon State's two wins by five total points.

Admittedly, it's been a tough season for Johnny Dawkins, but give the man credit: Stanford has won nearly every game against opponents it clearly outclassed, sweeping its 11-game non-conference slate. (Of course, not clearly outclassing anyone in the Pac-10, with the possible exception of Oregon, aids the cause.) Stanford today is better than the Stanford of two months ago (which, in turn, makes the Vegas line, largely based on season statistics, closer than it should be), and so today's Cardinal is in a different class than Oregon State. That, in turn, leads to one conclusion…

Give Mitch Johnson, Anthony Goods, Kenny Brown and Lawrence Hill one more home game, and one final chance to end their careers champions. These seniors will round out their Stanford basketball days playing for a championship at Maples.

Vegas: Stanford 66, Oregon State 62 (Stanford -3.5, Total: 128)
The Bootleg: Stanford 75, Oregon State 62

Season 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
Predicted: Stanford 82, Cal State-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 Actual: Stanford 96, Boise State 76
Predicted: Wichita State 66, Stanford 65 Actual: Stanford 70, Wichita State 54
Predicted: Stanford 75, Oregon State 62


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