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Previewing the Cardinal

Just a real quick look this afternoon.  A couple questions to ponder before we look at the numbers:

1.  (In best Jerry Seinfeld voice) What's the deal with singular nicknames?

2.  What does a certain shade of red have to do with a crazy dancing tree?

Also, this is the standard against which all other university commercials should be measured:

Four Factors analysis after the jump.

Turnovers:  This is, without a doubt, Stanford's biggest strength.  They are very good at taking care of the ball, ranking 27 nationally in turnover percentage.  They are not so bad at taking the ball away too, ranking in the top third nationally is defensive turnover percentage.  If you want something to worry about, (and what Coug doesn't like a little worry now and then?) this is what you can have run through your mind to keep you up tonight.  We know the Cougs can be prone to giving the ball to the other team in bunches and those stretches can often be game-changing (See the start of the 2nd half versus Cal).  Stanford's disciplined approach can hurt the Cougs if they are not careful. 

Shooting: Washington State has the definitive advantage here.  They rank 43rd in the country in eFG%, while Stanford is 297th in defensive eFG%. This is yet another reason why turnovers are so crucual.  If the Cougs can take care of the ball and get shots up, they have a good chance to walk away comfortably with this one.  Playing Stanford may be just what the doctor ordered for struggling star Klay Thompson.

Rebounding:  Stanford seems to subscribe to the philosophy of crashing the boards on defense and giving up the chance at an offensive rebound by getting back to limit transition opportunties.  They are very highly ranked in defensive rebounding percentage (83rd) and ranked in bottom third (256th) in offensive rebounding percentage.  This could work out for well for Washington State, as defensive rebounding is generally a problem.  They've shown they can get offensive rebounds against teams that don't generally give them up (35.8 OR% vs. Cal).  Don't be surprised if DeAngelo Casto puts up a pretty rebound number in this one.

Free Throws:  This is a big plus for Washington State.  The Cougs are still ranked very high in free throw rate (14th) and thanks to playing a string of perimeter-oriented Pac 10 teams, they find themselves doing quite well in defensive free throw rate, ranking 83rd.  Stanford has a couple guys that can get to the line in Landry Fields and Jarrett Mann.  Mann actually ranks first in the nation in free throw rate at 125.4, meaning he shoots more free throws than field goals.  However, outside of those two, the Cardinal are not a big threat in drawing fouls.  They are also below average in defensive free throw rate.  Wazzu should shoot a lot of freebies in this one.  Reggie Moore just may be into the double digits in attempts once again.

This is definitely a game the Cougs should win.  They have advantages across the board.  It is absolute must-get as well.  If they lose games like this, getting in the top half of the conference and playing in any sort of postseason tournament is a pipe dream.  Let's hope the ZZU CRU is out in full force and rocking Beasley tomorrow.