The Orange, fresh off its 69-58 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday will face off against Stanford in the finals of the Dicks Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off.
MIDDLING EXPECTATIONS: The Cardinal was picked to finish fifth this season in a relatively weak Pac-12 conference. Of the 12 teams, only California (18) and Arizona (23) are currently ranked. UCLA, originally thought to be a contender for the Pac-12, has stumbled in the early part of its schedule, going 1-4 with embarrassing losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL: Stanford returns four of five starters from last year’s team that went a disappointing 15-16 (7-11 Pac-12) last year. It should’ve been all five, but in the surprise of the offseason, leading scorer Jeremy Green declared for the NBA draft, and was not selected. He averaged 16.7 points on 42.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc last year. But the Cardinal does return 6-8 senior Josh Owens (12.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), and has seen the emergence of sophomore guard Aaron Bright (14.0 ppg, 3.6 apg).
IN STANFORD’S LAST GAME: The Cardinal got to the finals by topping Oklahoma State 82-67 in the other semifinal. Johnny Dawkins’ team improved to 5-0 on the season—the only undefeated team left in the Pac-12. Stanford got there with good shooting, as it shot 47.4 percent from the floor and 9-of-19 from 3-point range. Owens was the main reason for Stanford’s torrid shooting, as he started the game 8-for-8 from the field en route to a game-high 21 points. The Cardinal also outrebounded Oklahoma State 40-29.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: This will be the first meeting between the Cardinal and the Orange.
GAME INFORMATION: Friday at 5:00 p.m. at Madison Square Garden. (ESPN).Wesley Cheng