Two teams coming off devastating last-minute losses match up tonight in Berkeley.
Combined, USC and Cal lost by two points.
The Trojans (10-5, 2-1) fell, 54-53, on a free throw with 11 seconds remaining by Jarrett Mann after making a improbable final-minute comeback.
The Bears (9-5, 1-1) lost, 76-75, to UCLA on a Michael Roll jumper with three seconds left in overtime.
In what looks to be a close game, Cal will offer two prolific scorers in Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher.
Randle, a 5-foot-10, 172-pound point guard, averages 19 points a game and has a deadly 3-point shot. Christopher puts up more than 16 points a game.
USC's Dwight Lewis and Mike Gerrity will match up directly on Randle and Christopher, but USC coach Kevin O'Neill's favorite defensive stopper Marcus Simmons will surely step in at times.
But for the Trojans to win, the USC backcourt must outplay Cal's. Lewis had a terrific game (22 points, 9-of-15 shooting), but Gerrity was horrific. He had only three points and three assists.
Other things that need to happen for USC: either Alex Stepheson or Nikola Vucevic need to be a force down low against Cal's Markhuri Sanders-Frison. Realistically, both Stepheson and Vucevic can easily beat Sanders-Frison in different ways. Stepheson is more powerful and quicker than the Bear transfer; Vucevic is more much proficient from outside the key and should utilize the advantage.
Someone off the USC bench has to step up and score, because the Bears use theirs well. Simmons? Donte Smith? We'll see.
We'll have frequent updates on the blog throughout the game.