Stanford's visit to Washington today is a huge one for the Huskies in a couple of ways.
First, there's the Pac-10 standings. Certainly, the Huskies need every win they can get to have any chance at the NCAA tournament. But especially this one.
As I've mentioned before, this three-game homestand plays out kind of like stair steps: Cal projecting as the easiest, Stanford as a step up, and then WSU on Wednesday looking like the toughest.
As for this middle step, well, the Huskies very nearly won at Stanford, so Hec Ed could be the difference-maker. However, there is a feeling that Stanford is better now than it was last month. So maybe not. I think it's another one that will be contested into crunch time.
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And the stakes are huge. If the Huskies win today, then they could probably get by with a WSU-Pitt split next week. Lose today, and those NIT invitations move that much closer.
This game also is big in another way -- physically big. There are probably three future NBA 7-footers in the Pac-10 this season, and all three will be on the court today: UW's Spencer Hawes, and Stanfords Brook and Robin Lopez. They are the focus of my preview story in today's paper.
At Stanford, Robin Lopez was as intense and dominating as anyone I've seen this season ... like a 7-foot Jon Brockman. Since then, it seems he's hit a bit of a wall, while Brook has come on. Brook's triple double against USC -- including 12 blocked shots -- might be the stat line of the year in the Pac-10.
So, this projects as a game as fascinating as it is important.
It tips off at 4 p.m. and will be carried on FSN.
Usual drill from me: News as it breaks (I have just a hunch Hawes might move back into the starting lineup), then halftime and post-game reports, hopefully with some comments from you guys, too.