Yesterday evening, the Stanford Cardinal defeated the Virginia Cavaliers 57-52 to set up a championship match up with the Kentucky Wildcats tonight at 9:30 PM EST. It's time to take a look at that matchup.
Last year, Stanford was 20-14 overall, 6-12 in conference and 14-2 out of conference. Stanford played in the CBI tournament last year, making the semifinals.
So far this year, the Cardinal are 3-2 overall with losses at San Diego and at home versus Oral Roberts. Unlike most of the other teams UK has faced so far, Stanford has some size and are coached by former Duke player Johnny Dawkins.
More after the jump.
Stanford Cardinal Basketball Roster
As you can see, Stanford is a young team, starting only one senior and four sophomores.
Stanford Team Stats
Four Factors Analysis
I've decided to use the StatSheet.com graphical chart builder to better illustrate the Four Factors. It has the added benefit of showing trending, so I think it will be a bit more useful than the KenPom charts.
This first graph shows offensive efficiency and offensive rebounding:
As you can see, so far in the season UK has been much more efficient offensively than the Cardinal, as well as the superior offensive rebounding team.
The next chart shows turnover percent and free throw rate percent:
No surprise to see that Stanford takes better care of the basketball than UK, but UK gets to the line very efficiently.
The Cardinal are a deliberate team offensively, and will try to control the pace of the game. They are also not as athletic as Kentucky, and will try to offset the athleticism with good ball-handling, solid defense and physicality.
Stanford cannot compete with the Wildcats in a fast game, so if we see John Wall and Eric Bledsoe flying up and down the court a lot, it's a good bet it is a blowout in Kentucky's favor.
But one thing Stanford can do is shoot three pointers, and at this point in the season are shooting 38% from the arc and getting 32% of their points from the 3-point shot. This team will severely test UK's recently improved perimeter defense.
The big concern here has to be the ability of Kentucky to execute the dribble drive against the Cardinal. Dawkins is definitely going to want his defense to sag, and we may even see some zone from Stanford, even though they are primarily a man-to-man team.
Offensively, Stanford will present with high screens to free three-point shooters, and this is worrisome for UK. Stanford will be patient and look to go deep into the shot clock to get a clean look, and UK's young players have shown a tendency to play about 20 seconds of good defense and then break down.
Patrick Patterson's health is a concern, as UK will need him in this game. It will also need more patience from the young players when Stanford packs it in.
But if UK can continue to rebound at a high level, continue to get to the line (and hopefully make some shots from there), and push the ball when they can, I expect them to come out on top.
Predicted score: UK 75, Stanford 62.