Key Individual Matchups in Pac-12 Quarterfinals

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on March 12th, 2015

It’s quarterfinal day in Las Vegas, with the Pac’s four top teams facing the upstarts who survived yesterday’s mayhem. Below, by way of previewing today’s games, we’ll look at one of the key matchups in each game that will help determine the eventual winner.


Stanley Johnson vs. Jabari Bird. Now, I don’t know that this is necessarily going to be the matchup that the Golden Bears go with on Johnson, but I know that there is not really an obvious solution for them. They’re going to have to put some size on the floor in order to match up with the Arizona bigs, so somebody out of Jordan Mathews, Tyrone Wallace or Bird is going to have to try to check Johnson. And Bird is the Bear with the physical tools that give him the best chance to check the Wildcat’s physical specimen. Johnson’s ability to bully Bird in the post or off the bounce give him a big advantage, but Bird’s got some impressive ability of his own, even if it only has come in fits and starts so far. But the sophomore has started to emerge recently, averaging 13.9 points in the Bears’ last seven games. If he can keep Johnson busy when the Bears have the ball, it will serve a dual good. Because really, for a undermanned Cal team against the elite Wildcats, just about everything is going to have to go right.

Can Cal Find Anyone To Slow Stanley Johnson?

Can Cal Find Anyone To Slow Stanley Johnson?


Norman Powell vs. Elijah Stewart. After scoring in double figures just twice in the first three months of the season, Stewart has reached the mark in each of the last three games, including a career-high 27 in USC’s come-from-behind victory over Arizona State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. But it will be a whole different challenge should the Bruins sic their best individual defender in Powell on him. Powell may instead be charged with slowing the penetration of Trojan point guard Julian Jacobs, but regardless, if Powell can limit the effectiveness of either of those key offensive players for SC, the Trojans’ already difficult task will be enhanced. And on the defensive end, while Stewart does have 35 blocks on the season, he hasn’t yet shown the defensive consistency that will be required to slow Powell’s slashing style.


Jordan Bell vs. Josh Scott. Since the calendar flipped to March, Scott has averaged 20.8 PPG on 64% shooting to go with 10.3 RPG. If the Buffaloes are going to continue their dream of another four-wins-in-four-days title run, they’re going to need to be able to rely on Scott not only for points in the paint, but to end defensive possessions with a rebound. His opposition will largely be freshman Jordan Bell, recently named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team in large part due to his 83 blocked shots on the season. Bell’s athleticism is a fine asset, but against Scott’s polished post game, he’ll have to show his defensive discipline. On the other end of the court, Bell has a raw offensive game, so in order to make Scott work when the Ducks have the ball, he’ll have to pay special attention to challenging on the offensive glass. If he can pick up a couple cheapies on Scott while battling on the boards, he’ll put his squad in a good position.

Josh Scott Against Pac-12 All-Defensive Team Member Jordan Bell Is A Matchup To Watch (Kai Casey, CU Independent)

Josh Scott Against Pac-12 All-Defensive Team Member Jordan Bell Is A Matchup To Watch (Kai Casey, CU Independent)


Delon Wright vs. Chasson Randle. On one end of the court, I have extreme doubts that this will be the actual man-to-man matchup; Stanford has too much to lose to trust Randle with checking Wright by himself. But Wright, one of the league’s very best individual defenders, will almost certainly be charged with interrupting whatever mojo Randle regained with a game-winning three against Washington on Wednesday night. His length and athleticism helped force Randle into 2/11 shooting and three turnovers in mid-February, and if Wright is able to force a similarly rough outing for Randle, the Cardinal will have trouble pulling the upset on Thursday night.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

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