Nevada (28-6) at Stanford (23-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 21, 9:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Maples Pavilion (7,391) -- Stanford, California. Television: ESPN2. NIT Record: Nevada 5-4, Stanford 9-4. Series Record: Stanford leads, 20-9.
GAME NOTES: After a thrilling win in the second round of the 2012 National Invitation Tournament on Monday night, the Stanford Cardinal now entertain the Nevada Wolf Pack in the quarterfinals. The winner advances to next week's semifinal round in New York City to tangle with UMass.
Even though Nevada (28-6, 13-1 WAC) missed out on the NCAA Tournament despite winning the Western Athletic Conference regular-season crown, it is making up for its WAC Tournament loss to Louisiana Tech with a stellar showing in the NIT. The Wolf Pack went on the road to defeat Oral Roberts in round one, and then followed that by beating Bucknell at home in the second round on Sunday, 75-67.
Stanford hung around most of the season in a down year for the Pac-12 Conference, but it still has an impressive 23-11 overall record. After taking care of Cleveland State in the first round of this event, the Cardinal needed overtime to defeat Illinois State in the round two, as they prevailed in a 92-88 final.
Stanford leads the all-time series with Nevada, 20-9, and the Cardinal has won the last five matchup. The teams last met in 1999.
Nevada performed well at both ends of the floor in its second-round victory, shooting 50 percent from the field and 24-of-32 from the foul line, while holding the Bison to 40 percent shooting and goading them into 16 turnovers. That kind of well-rounded attack has been commonplace this season for the Wolf Pack, as they rank third in the WAC in scoring (70.7 ppg) and first in field goal percentage defense (.409). Olek Czyz had a big game in the recent win, scoring 24 points for his sixth 20-point effort of the season. While Czyz has been effective this year, the Wolf Pack offense usually goes as Deonte Burton goes. The sophomore guard took home the WAC Player of the Year award, and he leads the team in scoring (14.8 ppg), assists (4.3 apg), free-throw percentage (.791) and steals (1.1 spg). Burton gets plenty of help at the offensive end, as Malik Story (14.1 ppg) and Dario Hunt (10.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg) have been productive as well.
Though Illinois State connected on an outstanding 15-of-30 attempts from three- point range and 19-of-21 at the foul line, Stanford was able to outlast the Redbirds by draining 52.3 percent of its total shots while riding two big-time performances. Aaron Bright carried the Cardinal with a career-high 29 points, doing so by draining 11-of-13 field goal attempts, which included a 6-of-7 showing from beyond the arc, while Chasson Randle added 19 points and knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with just over a minute left in overtime. Stanford has been strong on both offense and defense this season, as the team is just one of two in the Pac-12 to rank in the top six in both categories, leading to a scoring margin of +7.6 -- second-best in the league. Randle is the team's leading scorer with 13.8 ppg and he shoots a lofty 43.4 percent from three-point range. Josh Owens adds 11.6 ppg and a team-best 5.8 rpg, while Bright chips in with 11.6 ppg and 3.6 apg.
The Wolf Pack have proven they can compete with just about any team in the Pac-12, going 2-0 this season by beating Washington at home and Arizona State on the road. But Stanford has been outstanding at Maples Pavilion this year (16-3), and will carry the momentum over from the emotional win on Monday to advance to the semifinals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stanford 70, Nevada 67
03/21 10:33:33 ET