USC (9-6) vs. Washington (9-6) - Game Preview
When: Saturday, Jan. 12th @ 3:30 PM (PST)
Where: Galen Center (Los Angeles, CA)
Watch: Prime Ticket
Before I get into the match-up against Washington, I wanted to make a point about SC's tournament chances since it seems so many people have jumped ship and believe we're NIT bound. For these people let me say that last year Stanford got into the tournament with a 18-12 record and a 1st round (technically 2nd round) exit in the Pac-10 tournament. It is more than feasible to believe that SC can match that record while boasting a much stronger RPI. Take into consideration that Stanford faced 8 ranked opponents last season of which 1 team was in the top 5; SC has already faced 5 ranked opponents of which 3 teams are in the top 5. To get to 18 wins, we would need to go .500 in the conference, which will be tough but isn't ridiculous by any means. The Pac-10 will likely send 7 teams to the tournament this year and SC still has a very good chance of being one of those seven.
Washington packs a one-two punch in Jon Brockman, a physical albeit undersized low-post player who plays tough and boards as well as any big man in the country, and Ryan Appleby, a dangerous outside shooter with a very quick release. The key to this game will be locking down Appleby and making sure he doesn't repeat his 6-9 from 3-pt performance from last year. I'd love to see Marcus Simmons get the call to chase him around the court; his active defense on Thursday was one of the few positives from the game. Washington, like SC, is more of a guard oriented team, so this should play in our favor. Playing in the toughest conference in the nation, you have to win the games you're considerably favored in; SC needs to come out focused and execute the fundamentals to win this game. I expect to see the team come out with a sense of urgency and take this one late.
Prediction: W by 7