If you missed the NIT final between Minnesota and Stanford, you missed an impressive performance from Stanford, to say the least. Stanford didn't just win the game, but they were completely dominant in the 75-51 victory. The best thing for the Cardinal is that the best is yet to come. Next year, this will turn into a Pac-12 title.
If you don't believe me, take a look at the Cardinal's top-four scorers from this season.
One of the top-four players on the team is lost. Three of the team's best-four scorers returning is a recipe for success, and a great one.
This is especially true, since there's no real reason to fear the Pac-12. Heck, the regular-season champion in 2012 (Washington) didn't even reach the NCAA tournament, so there isn't a roadblock to overcome. It is wide open, and Stanford will walk right through.
In a way, the NIT is a perfect tournament for a team like this to win. It's not the goal of any team (that I know of) to win the NIT at the beginning of the season. Obviously, the NCAA tournament is the superior achievement and the one that teams strive for.
But, the NIT does give the team some postseason experience and provides them with something to build on. Winning the NIT is nice and proves to the players that they can have postseason success, but it's not elite enough to make them feel really accomplished, which could lead to complacency.
Now, this championship adds the necessary mix of confidence and hunger, heading into next season, which is exactly what you want. Stanford's players won't have to deal with any of the negatives that sometimes come with postseason success.
That, combined with a vulnerable Pac-12, will lead to a conference championship and an automatic NCAA bid. The NIT win is only going to be a stepping stone for future greatness, which will start with next season.
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