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Why Ole Miss’ upset of Stanford shouldn’t come as a huge surprise

I picked the No. 8 seed Ole Miss Rebels to beat the No. 1 seed Stanford Cardinal in almost every bracket, including my main bracket. The Rebels accomplished the feat on Sunday, winning 54-49 at Stanford to become the first team since 2009 to clinch a No. 1 seed before the Sweet Sixteen.

I was a little nervous about my selection, given Stanford’s talent on paper and what the program has shown throughout the years under Tara VanDveer, with two of its current biggest stars, Haley Jones and Cameron Brink, poised to win a national championship in 2021. helped in However, I didn’t expect Stanford to be so quiet this year, because in the regular season, the Cardinals demonstrated time and time again that they couldn’t take care of business against much inferior opponents:

  • Jan. 8: Defeated only non-tournament team Cal (13-17, 4-14 Pac-12) by four
  • January 15: Lost to eventual No. 8 seed USC by nine
  • Jan. 27: Defeated only non-tournament team Oregon State (13-18, 4-14 Pac-12) by three
  • Jan. 29: Defeated only non-tournament team Oregon (18-14, 7-11 Pac-12) by eight
  • February 5: Lost five to non-tournament team Washington (17-14, 7-11 Pac-12)
  • February 17: Only beat eventual No. 8 seed USC by three

On paper, I think Jones and Brink are one of the best star pairings in the country and Hannah Jump turned 3-point specialist to star this year while shooting a career-best 44.1 percent from beyond the arc. In addition, freshman Talana Lepolo came in and was just a distribution wizard, and the Cardinals still had secret weapons in No. 1 Hoop Gurlz recruits Lauren Bates, Fran Bailiby and Ashton Prechtel, with the latter two playing less roles than the former. his career.

With Stanford’s talent in 2021-22, I also pick them to win the national championship. But come tournament time, you need to perform under pressure, especially as a higher seed, and I no longer trust the Cardinals.

This isn’t to take anything away from Ole Miss. I knew the Rebels took the undefeated No. 1 overall seed South Carolina Gamecocks to overtime. And they were incredibly dominant in the first round, defeating a Gonzaga team that was ranked very highly in the AP Poll 71-48!

On Sunday, he held Stanford to 32.7 percent shooting from the field and 2-of-7 shooting from three. They themselves were 5-of-11 from downtown, outscoring the Cardinals 44–39 and forcing 21 turnovers. The game was truly won with those clutch free throws. Madison Scott went on a 2-of-2 stripe with 18 seconds left to make it 51–49 and Marquesha Davis also scored with 15 ticks left to make it a two-possession game.

For a stretch in the fourth, it looked like Jones was going to try to score on every Stanford possession and was having some success driving straight through the Ole Miss defense. However, the Rebels’ defense on Jones was exceptional over the last few possessions, in which they trapped him and the ball went out of bounds before a lengthy review.

The Rebels had not gone to the Sweet Sixteen since 2007. Even last year with Shakira Austin, when I picked her for the Sweet Sixteen, she suffered a disappointing first round loss as the No. 7 seed. To come back next season without the player who was credited with turning the program into a contender and going two rounds or more is an unprecedented feat.

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