This is a transcript from a small segment of this week’s episode of The Stanford Daily Men’s Basketball Podcast. You can listen to the entire episode here. This transcript was lightly edited for clarity.
Teddy Solomon (TS): With the past week, and really the regular season behind us, it’s time to talk about the Pac-12 tournament. We’re going to be talking about all of the teams in the tournament, but we’re going to start with Stanford and we’re going to focus on Stanford’s path to the NCAA Tournament.
I want to start by outlining a little bit of what that path looks like and what the seeds look like. So let’s remember first and foremost that Arizona is not allowed to play in the Pac-12 tournament. The seeds are one through 11, and that has put Stanford as the sixth seed, and its opening round matchup is going to be against the 11 seed, which is Cal, a little rivalry game there. The winner of that game, if Stanford wins that one, is going to be taking on Colorado in the three versus six game.
If Stanford then were to beat Colorado, it would move into the game six versus seven game which is the winner of USC versus the winner of Utah and Washington, so likely against USC. And then at that point, they move into the championship game, where they would likely take on Oregon or UCLA, but they could very well take on any of the lower seeds in the Pac-12; we know the bottom of the conference likes to eat up the top.
So that’s Stanford’s outlook, and that’s what its path looks like right now, but we’re going to start by talking about Stanford versus Cal, and I’ll go to you, Ells, first. What do you have to say about that matchup?
Ells Boone: This matchup on the surface might look like a somewhat of an easy win for Stanford, but it’s anything but that. As we all know, last year Cal beat Stanford in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament, effectively ending the team’s tourney hopes even though the tournament didn’t end up happening, and we don’t know if the team would have gotten a tourney bid. But we really hope history does not repeat itself here. Cal is led by [guard] Matt Bradley, who’s probably one of the best scorers in the conference, and they also have Grant Anticevich, who’s not really played well against Stanford this year, but you never know what will happen when the teams play for a third time. I do think Stanford can get by Cal, and in that second game matchup against Colorado — I just think Colorado is the worst possible matchup in this conference for Stanford.
TS: And Jibriel, anything to add about that Cal matchup?
Jibriel Taha: Yeah, well, it is a rematch as Ells said; we all remember that nightmarish game where [forward] Oscar da Silva and [guard] Tyrell Terry went a combined 3-17 and, as Ells said, most people had them out of the tourney after that game. But really there are just so many question marks on the Cardinal’s end of this to really make to get a solid grasp of what this game is going to be like. Is Oscar going to be back? Are [guards] Daejon [Davis] and Bryce [Wills] going to be able to play? I mean, that makes it a game — yes, they beat Cal without, I think both games they were missing three starters, and they comfortably won both those games. The score in the second one is a little deceptive; there was a lot of garbage time stuff happening there. But they beat them; they looked very, very comfortable against Cal this year, so if they’re at full strength with a week’s rest, I’d really be surprised if they drop this game.
But, again, there are just so many question marks of are they going to be at full strength, are people who are available going to actually get in the game, who’s in the starting lineup. There’s just so many questions around here you really don’t know what’s gonna happen, but you got to lean toward Stanford here.
TS: Absolutely. It really does seem like Stanford has figured out Cal this season, but you just don’t know because of the way that they played against USC. This Cardinal team doesn’t [just] beat anybody in the Pac-12, so they need to make sure that they are at least close to full strength and that they’re playing their best basketball and there is some sense of offensive consistency there.
This Cal team is a very cold team; that’s why they ended with the lowest seed in the conference. They’ve won one of their past 12 games, that one which bizarrely came against Colorado in a 9-point win 𑁋 a team that just destroyed Stanford both times this season. So that’s very, very weird that Cal was able to beat Colorado, but they’ve been extremely cold since then, including a 29-point loss against Washington State, and then on that same road trip, losing to Washington and then coming back and getting swept by the Oregon schools. So this Cal team is not playing their best basketball at all, and Stanford should win. The question is will they, and I think it is very much up in the air.