For the Stanford men’s basketball team, the 2013-14 season was supposed to mark a definitive moment in the direction of the program. Athletic director Bernard Muir placed the onus on head coach Johnny Dawkins and his staff at the end of last season, making it publicly known that the Cardinal want to be “playing for a conference championship” and should “play well into March on the grand stage of March Madness.” Or else.
No. 10 seed Stanford was overcome by No. 11 seed Dayton’s superior depth and quickness, falling 82-72 in a game in which the Cardinal just could never put it all together.
The Stanford men’s basketball team learned that it had earned its first NCAA Tournament bid since the 2007-08 season when the official 2014 bracket was released as part of Selection Sunday on CBS. The Cardinal (21-12, 10-8 Pac-12) received a No. 10 seed in the South Region and are slated to play the seventh-seeded New Mexico Lobos (27-6, 15-3 Mountain West) in St. Louis this Friday, March 21, in the teams’ tournament opener. The winner will advance to play on March 23 against the winner of the game between No. 2 seed Kansas and No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky.
For as well as the Stanford men’s basketball team played on Thursday night in dominating Arizona State in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals, the Cardinal failed to remotely resemble that same squad on Friday. The second-seeded UCLA Bruins (26-8, 12-6 Pac-12) outplayed Stanford (21-12, 10-8) from the outset in Friday night’s Pac-12 semifinal, defeating the Cardinal 84-59 in a one-sided rout.
The Stanford men’s basketball team, in all likelihood, can finally punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament. With an emphatic 79-58 blowout victory over Arizona State (21-11, 10-8 Pac-12) in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night, the Cardinal (21-11, 10-8) appear to be secure in their bid for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008. It was the Cardinal’s second victory over the Sun Devils in three tries this season, and the victory now sets up a showdown with UCLA in the semifinals of the conference tournament on Friday.
Head coach Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford men’s basketball team lived to see another day on Wednesday night, as the Card defeated the Washington State Cougars 74-63 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. With the win, the Cardinal (20-11, 10-8 Pac-12) advanced to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, where they will face the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday night. The win not only moved Stanford closer to a Pac-12 tournament title, but also was crucial in ensuring that the Cardinal avoided the type of disastrous loss that would swing the NCAA Tournament committee in favor of keeping Stanford out of the Big Dance.
With the win on Saturday against Utah, the Stanford men’s basketball team avoided ending the regular season on a sour note and, in the process, prevented further doubt from creeping into its NCAA tournament profile. The Cardinal (19-11, 10-8 Pac-12) escaped the Utes (20-10, 9-9) with a 61-60 victory on a late free throw by senior Dwight Powell, thus ensuring that the Cardinal would register their second winning conference season of the Johnny Dawkins era, and as a result, finish in a five-way tie for third place in the Pac-12.
It didn’t play its best game, but the Stanford men’s basketball team did just enough on Senior Day to escape the Utah Utes on Saturday, and in the process, put its quest to the NCAA Tournament back on track. A Dwight Powell free throw with 36 seconds left gave Stanford (19-11, 10-8 Pac-12) a 61-60 lead, and a strong defensive possession that saw Chasson Randle force a turnover with less than two seconds remaining sealed the Cardinal victory. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and clinched Stanford’s second winning conference season in the last three years.