Stanford faces tough SEC foe
After waltzing through the first two rounds of the big dance, the Stanford Cardinal face their next test this Saturday in Sacramento. The Card will take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sweet 16 in Arco Arena as the Cardinal look to continue their winning ways after dominating eight seed Iowa on Monday in a 96-67 win.
The #5 seed Bulldogs come to Sacramento after two hard-fought wins over Tulane and Oklahoma State down in Tempe, AZ. Georgia managed to stave off 12-seed Tulane's upset bid with a 64-59 victory, then took down the Cowgirls with a 74-71 win in overtime on Monday.
Both teams will be wearing red and white on Saturday, so how can we distinguish these two foes? Let's go to the tale of the tape.
Scouting the Dawgs
Stanford and Georgia are not uncommon foes in women's basketball, and in several sports for that matter (the baseball and golf teams have battled it out recently), but Stanford maintains the series edge over UGA with a 6-3 advantage. Of those nine meetings, five have come in the NCAA tournament, where Stanford ‘s margin is only 3-2, with the teams last meeting in 2000.
Georgia's season started hot, as they cruised to 17-0 to begin the season,
notching victories against three tournament teams along the way: Rutgers,
Georgia Tech, and Kentucky. The Bulldogs streak came to a halt with a road loss
to Vanderbilt, but they rebounded a week later with their most significant
regular season win, a 53-50 victory over Tennessee in Athens. At the time,
Georgia was ranked number eight in the country, and the win over Coach Pat
Summit's Lady Vols was no small feat.
The Volunteers have dropped only two games all season, and the number four overall seed will certainly be watching this game intently (even from the other side of the bracket) as their only two losses came at Georgia and Stanford, who grabbed a 67-52 win in Palo Alto back on January 19th.
After the big victory, the girls from Athens came crashing back to earth though, dropping six of their next their games. The Bulldogs also struggled in the SEC tournament. After a win over Alabama, the fell 67-52 to Mississippi State in the quarterfinals, earning them the five seed that sent them to Tempe after the season had started so promising.
Who to Watch
The Dawgs' season can definitely be delineated into home success and away struggles, as a 7-5 record on the road marred their 25-8 overall record. These struggles can probably be attributed to the youth of the Bulldogs, who only suit up three seniors compared to six freshmen. Offensively, senior guard Ashley Houts leads Georgia with 12.6 points per game, followed up by freshman guard Jasmine James' 11.7 PPG. The Bulldogs also have two of the SEC's top rebounders down low, as junior Porsha Phillips grabs 8.7 rebounds a game (good enough for third best in conference) and 6'5" senior Angel Robinson, who pulls down 7.7 rebounds a game.
All in all, the starting five notched almost 300 more minutes of playing time than the bench, so you can expect head coach Andy Landers to leave his starters in most of the game, as all five starters play more minutes than their Stanford counterparts. In an interesting side note, Landers' record is strikingly similar to Tara VanDerveer's mark at Stanford. Landers has a 725-239 record in 30 seasons at UGA, while VanDerveer has a 790-194 record in her 30 seasons as a head coach.
While Georgia comes to Arco Arena playing well, Stanford has hit their stride over the last month, playing some of their best all-around basketball of the season. Should the Cardinal continue their outstanding play, they should have no trouble with the Bulldogs. Stanford averages almost 78 points a game, good for tenth best in the country while Georgia scores 63 points a game, which ranks them 165th in scoring, and only half a point ahead of Stanford's first-round opponent, UC Riverside. Also, Georgia only shoots 38.8 percent from the floor (and 29.1 percent from three-point land) compared to Stanford's 47.6 and 34.8 shooting percentages. If offense is the story of this game, and it looks to be that way, Stanford should easily go on to the Elite Eight.
A Brief Peek Ahead
The other two teams heading to Sacramento might also prove to be an interesting challenge for the Cardinal should they move on to the round of eight. Both teams come to Sacramento after one-point wins in the second round, but one team looks primed for a glass slipper fitting – Gonzaga. The Bulldogs (Spokane version) take on Xavier on Saturday after securing one of the biggest upsets of the tournament with a 72-71 victory over #2 seed Texas A&M. The Aggies had knocked off previously undefeated Nebraska on their way to winning the Big 12 Tournament, but Gonzaga senior Vivian Freison dominated the court with 23 points and nine rebounds to help steal the upset. Gonzaga has made plenty of headlines in both men's and women's basketball in the last few years, and the Lady Zags are picked by many to upset the #3 seed Musketeers. Either way, Stanford's next set of games will be interesting by all accounts – make sure you stay tuned to The Bootleg for all the best NCAA tournament coverage!
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