Minnesota vs. Stanford: Cardinal Will Use NIT Finals Win as Motivation for 2013

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Johnny Dawkins of the Stanford Cardinal talks with Chasson Randle #5 of the Stanford Cardinal against the Syracuse Orange at the 2011 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden on November 25, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Stanford Cardinal wiped the floor with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the NIT Championship game Thursday night, and their dominant showing will do wonders for the team's confidence moving forward. 

With key underclassmen as strong contributors throughout the NIT, all of them will be back and ready to lead Stanford to greatness in 2013. 

Pac-12 basketball is not very strong, so Stanford can definitely take it by storm next year. 

They'll certainly miss those seniors that are leaving, but some of their best players are only freshmen and sophomores, which is a reason to smile about Stanford basketball next year.

Chasson Randle has been the star for the Cardinal this year, and the freshman guard will be back and ready to carry Stanford to the premier college basketball tournament in 2013. 

It's nice that these guys were able to win the NIT, but the real hoops tourney in March is the NCAA Tournament.

I'm sure some of them would trade their NIT title for a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal got hot at the right time, and had them been able to do that in the field of 68, who knows what would have happened? 

In addition to Randle, who averaged 14 points during the NIT, Stanford has Aaron Bright and Anthony Brown to get excited about for 2013 and beyond. 

In addition to them, the Cardinal has other underclassmen that are ready to take over. Sure, they may not have great experience, but Randle, Bright and Brown will be leading the way, helping the others transition in. 

Plus, Stanford has Ray Lewis on its side, so they're definitely a team to fear in the future if he keeps giving them pep talks here and there. 

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