STANFORD (15-5, 5-3 Pac-12) AT CALIFORNIA (16-5, 6-2 Pac-12)
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. local)/Fox Sports Network
Location: Haas Pavilion
Stanford 79 (No. 5 Pac-12)
California 34 (No. 1 Pac-12)
Line: Cal -8.5 (130.5 o/u)
Stanford Players to Watch: F Josh Owens, 6-8 Sr. (13.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 60.9% FG); G Chasson Randle, 6-1 Fr. (12.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.2 apg); G Aaron Bright, 5-11 So. (12.2 ppg, 3.4 apg, 43% 3s). Owens, who scored 14 points on 7-of-13 shooting and pulled down nine boards in the Cardinal’s 76-63 loss at Washington last Saturday, should have his best game ever against the rival Bears. It won’t be hard. In five career games against Cal, he has 15 points and 11 rebounds combined.
Cal Players to Watch: G Jorge Gutierrez, 6-3 Sr. (14.3 ppg, 5 rpg, 4.5 apg); G Allen Crabbe, 6-6 So. (15.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 44.5% 3s); G Justin Cobbs, 6-2 So. (13 ppg, 4.8 apg, 53.8% 3s, 50.8% FG). Gutierrez is making a case for Pac-12 Player of the Year. He’s 10th in the league in scoring, fifth in assists, eight in free throw percentage (80.3), eighth in steals (1.3), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2-to-1), 21st in rebounds and 11th in defensive rebounds (4.3).
Storylines: After Washington topped Arizona yesterday, Cal is a game behind the conference lead at 6-2. Stanford was also in the title hunt until back-to-back losses to Washington State and Washington. The Cardinal are now a game back of Cal at 5-3.
Keys: Cal has the home-court, the experience and possibly a slight talent edge over the Cardinal, but Stanford appears to have a size, depth and balance advantages in the matchup. The Cardinal have three players who score in double-figures, fiver over six points per game and 10 players who average at least three points per game. Cal is shooting 29.1 percent from the 3-point line (16-for-55) in its past four games. Before that stretch, the Bears were making 44 percent from beyond the arc. Both teams average in the 72-point range, but Cal has an edge in scoring defense and field goal defense. The Bears surrender only 60.2 points per game (second to USC’s 58.8) to Stanford’s 62.8, and Cal has the Pac-12’s best scoring margin at plus-12.1. California gives up just 40.4 percent from the floor to its opponents, while the Cardinal surrender 42.1. Cal also leads the league in free throw percentage at 74.8 percent (Stanford is ninth with a 65.7 percentage) and 3-point percentage at 40.1 (the Cardinal are seventh at 36.3). Stanford is second in the Pac-12 in rebounding margin at plus-5.8 per game (behind only Colorado’s plus-6.4), but it was out-rebounded 47-32 by Washington State and 39-30 by Washington. Against WSU, the Cardinal shot just 3-for-19 from the 3-point line. The Cardinal gave up 33 points to the Cougars’ Faisal Aden, who was later named the collegehoops.net Player of the Week. The Cardinal shot just 11-for-52 from the 3-point line in their 2-game trip to Washington. Cal is 13-0 at Haas Pavilion this season, while the Cardinal are 3-3 in true road games after the back-to-back losses to Washington and Washington State last weekend. Stanford has an edge in the series, which dates back to 1913-14, 141-113 all-time. Cal has won four of the last five meetings overall, including the last three in Berkeley, with the Cardinal winning 82-68 last January. The two sides have split the last 10 meetings.
The Bottom Line: In the Pac-12, it’s really hard to tell what’s going to happen. When two teams match up this similarly, it’s always wise to take the home team.
The Pick: Cal 69, Stanford 63