2013 Pac-12 women's basketball tournament: Stanford begins its title defense

USA TODAY Sports

The evening games in today's Pac-12 tournament feature defending tournament champion Stanford taking the court for the first time.

Schedule:

6 p.m.: Stanford Cardinal vs. Washington State Cougars

8:30 p.m. Colorado Buffaloes vs. Washington Huskies

Analysis

Stanford vs. Washington State

Unlike past years, there is a blue print to beat the Cardinal this season: Cal did it once at Maples, came close another time, and USC was within single digits.

Yet saying it's possible and actually getting the job done are two very different things, as Washington State found out: they lost by 22 points at home to Stanford less than a week ago.

The problem for the Cougars lies in their inability to match up well with Ogwumike - the key to Cal's success against Stanford was making her touches difficult and forcing their wings to make plays that they weren't comfortable making. Cal, more than any team, exposed one of Stanford's biggest weaknesses: lacking depth.

Once you get past Ogwumike, the rest of the team can struggle to find a rhythm. The problem is that "stopping" Ogwumike has proven nearly impossible for anyone - including UConn - and Tara VanDerveer's system has made them so potent that it's hard to truly take anything away.

eFg%

Fta/Fga

Oreb%

Tov%

Stan

48.30%

28.26%

36.53%

0.14

Opp

34.20%

26.10%

32.55%

0.17

Weighted

eFg%

fta/fga

Oreb%

Tov%

Stan

1.41

0.05

0.17

0.24

Stanford's Four Factors statistics from conference play. Click here for Washington State's statistics.

The one thing that WSU might hope to accomplish is in fact something similar to Cal: if they can pressure Stanford's guards and force turnovers to keep the game uptempo, they might be able to make it closer than the previous game.

But the chances of them pulling off the upset seems slim.

Colorado vs. Washington

We probably haven't spent enough time talking about Colorado here, but they're probably one of the more underrated teams in the nation - when you look at the national polls, there are probably a few teams ranked ahead of Colorado that they could beat if given the opportunity on a neutral court.

Although they're led by Chucky Jeffery, a NBA-caliber athlete, the strength of this team has been their balance and depth.

eFg%

Fta/Fga

Oreb%

Tov%

Colo

40.94%

32.60%

38.14%

0.19

Opp

39.50%

32.16%

29.99%

0.22

Weighted

eFg%

fta/fga

Oreb%

Tov%

Colo

0.14

0.01

0.34

0.28

Colorado Four Factors statistics during conference play. Click here for Washington's.

When you look at those rebounding numbers, for example, what stands out is that they're not just relying on one or two players to rebound but seven or eight, with Jeffery leading the way on the defensive boards by percentage.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, rebounding is a significant weakness for them. Still, in saying that, it's also saying that they can win despite that. So the key for the Huskies might be their 3-point shooting: though neither of these teams is a particularly efficient shooting team, Washington is currently second in the conference from beyond the arc at 32.9%. If they can get hot from long range and force the Buffaloes into shooting jumpers - as they've fallen into at times this season - they have a good shot at picking up a win that would look very good on their tournament resume as they try to make the case for offsetting a few rough losses.

Then again, it's not at all surprising UW went 5-for-20 from 3-point range in the last meeting between these two teams: Colorado's guards are quick and long and have the ability to close out on shooters quickly as well as bothering ball handlers. If Colorado can keep UW from executing with pressure up front, this is a game they should be able to win even if UW will have more of a home court advantage this time around.

Predictions:

  • Stanford def. Wazzu
  • Colorado def. Washington
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