Cardinal seek first win in Seattle since 2008

Jan. 27, 2015, 11:03 p.m.

There comes a point in every college basketball season at which coaches, teams and the media all stop treating games as abstract wins and losses and start to view them as important or even necessary for a team’s inclusion in the NCAA tournament.

As Stanford travels to Seattle on Wednesday to take on the Washington Huskies, one has to believe that both teams have an eye on the significance of this matchup in determining their own postseason fates.

(MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)
Fifth-year senior center Stefan Nastic (left) saw his job against Washington become a lot easier with the news of the dismissal of Huskies center Robert Upshaw. (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

Both the Cardinal and the Huskies have amassed impressive resumes that would be further bolstered by a win this week. Stanford has landed a number of quality accomplishments this year, most recently finishing up a three-game home stand with wins over Arizona State and defending national champion Connecticut. Meanwhile, Washington surprised fans across the nation when it started the season on an 11-game win streak that included victories over non-conference powerhouses San Diego State and Oklahoma, but has struggled to assert itself in Pac-12 conference play.

Both teams have yet to totally prove their worth, however, and they will need to take advantage of remaining opportunities if they are to compete for one of the limited number of berths the Pac-12 will receive to the tournament this March.

Stanford came out on top in the last face-off between these two squads, upsetting then-21st-ranked Washington at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 4. Washington appeared to be in control of this game for most of the second half, but a Chasson Randle drive to the basket with just a few seconds to go forced the game into overtime. Stanford dominated this extra period, ultimately holding on for a 68-60 win.

Still, Seattle has always proved a difficult place for the Cardinal to come away with victories. C.J. Wilcox and the Huskies ended a two-game Stanford winning streak when the Cardinal visited last season, and Johnny Dawkins’ side has been unable to notch a win in Washington’s Hec Edmundson Pavilion since January 2008.

This year, luck may be on the Cardinal’s side. Highly touted freshman forward Reid Travis could be available on Wednesday, adding a much needed scoring and rebounding threat to Stanford’s somewhat shallow front court. Travis has missed most of January after suffering from a stress fracture, but had proven quite valuable to the Cardinal in his limited number of early-season appearances.

Stanford received further good news when it broke earlier this week that the Washington coaching staff had dismissed defensive powerhouse Robert Upshaw for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. The Huskies will be hard-pressed to replace the center, who had amassed an NCAA-leading 4.4 blocks per game, and Dawkins will likely look to take advantage of his absence by attacking the basket with Randle and fifth-year senior center Stefan Nastic.

Washington will have to count on point guard Nigel Williams-Goss to counter the impressive Cardinal offense. Williams-Goss leads the Pac-12 with 6.2 assists per game, but ranks dead last in 3-point percentage amongst active shooters in the conference with just 11 makes in 54 attempts. If Stanford fifth-year senior Anthony Brown and junior Roscoe Allen can get their own long-range jumpers going while still maintaining intensity under the basket, the Cardinal should have little difficulty staying competitive in the face of Williams-Goss’ fluid offense.

Stanford and Washington tip off at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, with television coverage on ESPNU.

Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

Andrew Mather served as a sports editor and as the Chief Operating Officer of The Daily. A devout Clippers and Iowa Hawkeyes fan from the suburbs of Los Angeles, Mather grew accustomed to watching his favorite programs snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He brought this nihilistic pessimism to The Daily, where he often felt a sense of déjà vu while covering basketball, football and golf.

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