On Friday, March Madness kicked off for Stanford fans as the No. 1 seeded Cardinal hosted the No. 16 seeded Sacred Heart Pioneers at Maples Pavilion.
Just forty minutes prior to Stanford's tip off, another No. 1 seed—the Purdue Boilermakers on the men's bracket—started a similarly innocuous 1 v. 16 matchup against the *checks notes* Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.
When the day was done, the Stanford women surged by 43 points, smiles beaming from the bench. The Purdue men left Columbus, Ohio in basketball disgrace, shoulders arched and feet shuffling.
Despite the Cardinal absolutely dust-bowling the Pioneers in the final box, the squad showed early signs of a Purdooms Day. The first quarter saw several lead changes, and with Second Team All American Cameron Brink sidelined due to a stomach flu, I was also a little sick to my stomach (largely because I'm dramatic and my health is directly tied to this team's success). Nonetheless, a 22-8 run in the second quarter righted the ship. One easy way to ensure momentum is on your side at the end of the half? Break a record:
With the above, Hannah Jump beat not only the buzzer but also Stanford's single-season record for 3-pointers made, topping Karlie Samuelson (96 in '16-17) and Jeanette Pohlen (96 in '10-11).
Haley Jones led the way with 17 points on 7-12 shooting and 6 rebounds. Four more Cardinal scored in double digits including Jump, Fran Belibi, Lauren Betts, and Indya Nivar. Belibi added 10 rebounds, helping make up for some of the lost firepower under the rim due to Brink's absence.
So where do we go from here? It's a brutal road to the Final Four for Stanford. Up next the Card hosts an Ole Miss team at Maples who just beat a solid Gonzaga squad 71-48. In December, Stanford beat Gonzaga too, by 21 points, so rest assured Stanford’s margin of victory against the same team is comparable. Ole Miss has three players averaging double digit points on the season, led by guard Angel Baker at ~15, though it was forward Madison Scott who notched a clutch double double in the Rebel's last game.
I don’t need to remind you that Stanford has dropped some games this year to teams they overlooked... Ole Miss feels the right combination of clicking at the right time and low seed to cause some turbulence, especially if Brink is not yet reinserted into the roster.
Many more scary combatants await Stanford in the region, including the No. 4 Texas Longhorns and their wily coach Vic Schaefer, the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals who have made runs aplenty in recent years, and Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes, still livid they lost the last one seed to Stanford.
The Rebels and Card tip off at 6:30pm PT on ESPN. Brink as of the time of writing is still "day to day."
While the prospect of a Fairleigh Dickinson sized upset has passed, the Ole Miss Rebels could still play a Fairleigh Dixieson role in tonight's matchup. Stay vigilant.
--Fear The Me.