We are three games into Pac-12 play, and the men’s Stanford Cardinal finds itself with a 1-2 record. This puts the team in seventh place in the conference out of 12 teams total, and at first that would seem much less than desirable, but it’s not really as awful as it seems.
It seems counter-intuitive I know. Shouldn’t I only be saying Stanford is off to a good start if they have a winning record? Well, first of all, the two teams that handed the Cardinal both of its losses are good teams in their own right. The first team was the California Golden Bears, the team currently ranked second in the Pac-12. The other team was Oregon State; a team that is 9-6.
The loss to California wasn’t a bad loss (69-62). As I mentioned, the Golden Bears have a solid team. The difference in the game was the ability to make shots: California’s overall field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, and free-throw percentage was higher than Stanford’s (42.1% vs. 41.4%, 45.5% vs. 28.6%, and 72.7% vs. 50% respectively). The Cardinal turned the ball over fewer times than the Golden Bears (12 vs. 11), which is a plus. In fact, in both of its losses, Stanford turned the ball over fewer times than its opponents. Versus Oregon State, the Beavers committed 12 turnovers while the Cardinal only had 10.
This brings us to the one win in Stanford’s Pac-12 record this year. They defeated the No. 17-ranked Oregon Ducks (82-80), a team that has an overall record of 13-3. Stanford only committed 7 turnovers and forced 15 turnovers from Oregon, which shows what the Cardinal is capable of when they take care of the ball. This is a huge win for Stanford because this is the only ranked team they have played in conference play—and they walked away with a win. A win is a win is a win in conference play, but not all wins are created equally in the eyes of the Selection Committee. The Ducks are the second ranked team the Cardinal has faced, and Stanford has won both games. So in terms of conference standings in the Pac-12, Stanford isn’t off to the best start; however, in terms off their overall season, Stanford is doing quite well.