Washington State welcomes Stanford into Beasley Coliseum this evening as they look to sweep the regular season from the Cardinal for the first time since 2005. The Cougs won in Palo Alto 61-58. WSU was able to overcome a nine-point halftime deficit to escape with the victory.
The first meeting was a defensive struggle, as WSU prevailed with a 91.8 offensive rating. Both teams shot poorly, Stanford posted a 41.0 eFG% and WSU only slightly better with 44.6. Stanford was able to slow down the Cougar offense without forcing a lot of turnovers, which is unique for the Cardinal. They have a higher-than-usual correlation of turnovers to defensive success, and when they have not forced many turnovers they usually can't stop teams.
I would expect tonight to feature more scoring. Washington State has been much better offensively at home during Pac-10 play, especially shooting the ball. In Stanford's last three road games against Arizona, Stanford, and UCLA, they've given up over a point per possession. If WSU can do that (they've been under 1 point per possession at home twice this season), I like their chances.
The reason I like WSU's chances is the way they've been defending. Stanford was held to .873 points per possession last time out, even lower than WSU's 90.3 season-long adjusted efficiency (21st nationally). Stanford doesn't shoot well from the outside. WSU can stay in the 2-3 zone that has worked well for them and limit the Cardinal's two-point effectiveness (they have shot inside the arc pretty well, 76th best in the country).
KenPom predicts WSU to win with 85% confidence. I'm not sure there has ever been a WSU fan with that much confidence heading into any basketball game.
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