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Preview: No. 15 Stanford Cardinal host No. 9 Indiana Hoosiers in marquee matchup

No. 15 Stanford won’t have it easy at home against Mackenzie Holmes and No. 9 Indiana. The Cardinal and Hoosiers tip off at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 19 Div I Women’s Championship - Ole Miss vs Stanford
Stanford senior Cameron Brink drives to the hoop during a game last sesaon.
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The No. 9 Indiana Hoosiers (1-0) and No. 15 Stanford Cardinal (1-0) are competing in top conferences and have started the season right by both winning their first games. They'll face their first big test when they play one another on Sunday, with Stanford hosting at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.

With Indiana ranked ninth in the nation, do they have the upper hand even though they’ll be on the road? What must Stanford do to pull off the upset and protect home court? Let’s break down the matchup.

What’s at stake for Indiana?

Indiana is entering this game right where they want to be. They just dominated Eastern Illinois, winning 96-43. The Hoosiers had four players in double digits, including their star big Mackenzie Holmes, who led the team with 19 points and six rebounds. The balanced pairing of a dominant big and effective guard play helped Indiana dominate the Big Ten last season and they’ll be using the same recipe this year to replicate that success.

Getting tested this early on the road can have its setbacks and advantages. A win will undoubtedly keep them in the top 10 and have them just under No. 3 Iowa in the Big Ten hierarchy, but a loss could make some think they were overrated during the preseason.

How Stanford can get the win

There’s a new sheriff in town and her name is Nunu Agara.

The freshman is part of this new class that has taken women's basketball by storm, playing at a veteran level from the jump. In her debut, Agara scored 18 points in 18 minutes off the bench, doing so on 5-for-7 shooting. I'm not sure if she'll be a super sub for Stanford early on or if head coach Tara VanDerveer will opt to start her sooner rather than later.

Regardless, Stanford is in a great position, with a balanced roster filled with vets like Cameron Brink, youth like Agara and returning players such as Kiki Iriafen. If they can control the glass and limit Holmes' production, they should be in an excellent position to pull off the rare upset win at home. It's hard to compete with Indiana’s guard play, but if the Cardinal can keep it competitive and make the Hoosiers work for every basket, they'll be in position to win the game late.

Closing thoughts

It's very early in the season, but a marquee matchup like this can teach us a lot about each team. Is Indiana balanced enough to compete with top contenders? Can Stanford protect home court? Will Brink be good enough to challenge the best bigs in the nation? This game will put both teams to the test and the victor will leave feeling better about themselves, while the loser will be looking at how to make adjustments for the future.

In the season’s early days, it's about wins and losses, but also lessons and wisdom. Let's see who wins this early battle.

Game information

No. 9 Indiana Hoosiers (1-0) vs. No. 15 Stanford Cardinal (1-0)

When: Sunday, Nov. 12 at 5 p.m.

Where: Maples Pavillion in Palo Alto, CA

How to watch: ESPN