2014 Stanford Cardinal Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 10/8/2014
Johnny Dawkins was squarely on the hot seat entering last season. Stanford had been just outside the NCAA Tournament bubble the previous year (they ended up winning the NIT), and it was going to be NCAA Tournament or bust for Dawkins in the 2013-14 season. In early March, the Cardinal lost their third straight game and sat at 18-11 on the year. They were in danger of missing another NCAA Tournament. They responded by winning their final regular season game and winning two games in the highly-competitive Pac-12 Tournament. That got them to 21 wins and it ended up getting them a No. 10 seed in the Big Dance.
To say that Stanford made the most of their opportunity is a major understatement. Dawkins' team knocked off seventh-seeded New Mexico in the opening round, and then they pulled one of the biggest upsets of the tournament by knocking off the Kansas Jayhawks. Stanford then fell 82-72 to Dayton in their bid to reach the Elite Eight. The Cardinal won with defense in March last year, and that was most impressive to me. Future No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins managed only four points against the Cardinal's swarming defense.
A Sweet 16 appearance gave this Stanford basketball program the momentum they needed, and it put Dawkins back on firm ground. Dawkins moved the team to the triangle offense last year, with plenty of success, and we should expect to see more of that in the year ahead. The Cardinal enter this season with plenty of returning talent, and this team should be a factor in the Pac-12.
2014 Stanford Key Losses and Additions
Stanford lost two key pieces from last year's team: Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis. Powell averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds per game, and Huestis averaged 11 points and 8 boards per game. Heustis was the team's best shot blocker as well. Huestis ended up being a surprise first-round NBA Draft pick because of his overall game. Powell went in the second round. Aaron Bright was the starting point guard for Stanford at the beginning of last year, but he went down with an injury and missed the rest of the year. He has one year of eligibility left, but he has chosen to transfer to St. Mary's.
Stanford brought in a Top 20-ranked recruiting class for this year, and the headliner of this class is Reid Travis. Travis was a McDonald's All-American, and this is the first time Dawkins has been able to get a McDonald's All-American to come to Stanford. Travis is a 6-foot-8 forward who should step into Powell's position right away. Michael Humphrey is a 6-foot-9 post who will give the team another big body down low. Dorian Pickens is the sharpshooter of the freshman class, and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some chances in his freshman season.
2014 Stanford Backcourt
The backcourt is the clear strength of this team in the season ahead. Chasson Randle was the leading scorer on last year's team at 18 points per contest. Randle shot 39 percent from beyond the arc and got to the free throw line 223 times. He'll be the leader of this team in the season ahead, and the Cardinal need Randle to do a better job involving his teammates this year. He had more turnovers than assists last season. Anthony Brown will join Randle in the backcourt. Brown is one of the best defensive players on the team, and his versatility helps his team. The Cardinal will generally play without a true point guard. Robert Cartwright could see some playing time in his freshman season, though, if the team needs a ball handler. Sophomore Marcus Allen will also see more time this season.
2014 Stanford Frontcourt
Stefan Nastic was one of the main reasons that Stanford made a late run last year. The 6-foot-11 center came into his own in the final few games of the year. How good was he in the team's last seven games? Nastic made 27 out of 31 shots from the floor for a ridiculous 87.1 percent. His offense will be needed much more this year without Powell and Huestis. Nastic fouled out of nine games last year, so that's an area he needs to work on. Travis will start at the power forward position, but the real question mark is at the small forward spot. Can the Cardinal find someone to fill the apparent hole on the wing?
2014 Stanford Cardinal Futures Odds
Stanford is likely to get back to the NCAA Tournament this year, but it seems like the oddsmakers aren't high on their chances of winning it all. Bovada lists Stanford at 100/1 to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. They are also listed at +10,000 to win it all at 5Dimes.
2014 Stanford Cardinal Predictions and NCAA Basketball Picks
I like the implementation of the triangle offense at Stanford. It's a system that not many college teams run, so it will be harder for opponents to prepare for Stanford's offense. The Pac-12 is underrated as a conference, so Stanford will play a lot of quality opponents during conference play. Powell and Huestis being gone leaves this team with question marks, but their strength in the backcourt should help them back to the Big Dance. I'll call for a NCAA Tournament appearance but an exit before the Sweet 16.
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