Though no axe is involved, there is still a great deal of pride at stake. Sure, the loser will get a shot at redemption later this year, but at that point, the best they can do is a tie. The winner, however, gets at least a tie; at best, they’ll have bragging rights until football’s Big Game. Yes, Mike Montgomery’s new team faces his old team in the first edition of the season series between the Bay Area’s two major-conference universities.
(There absolutely needs to be a name for this series; and no, Battle of the Bay is not it.)
On the east side of the San Francisco Bay, we have the California Golden Bears (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12). Allen Crabbe and company come into the game having split the first four games of their conference season, and cannot continue going back and forth with wins and losses if they hope to make the tournament. For a team that was picked to finish third in the conference, they have been a slight disappointment.
They’ll be heading across the Bay to face their coach’s old team, the Stanford Cardinal (10-7, 1-3). Mike Montgomery’s old team brings 6-10 junior forward Dwight Powell, who has more than doubled his field goal attempts from last year, leading the team in scoring; he will be a handful for the Bears inside. As the team picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12, they’ve been disappointing, too, and probably need this win more than Cal.
Because the two schools are forever intertwined (read: travelling partners), they play the same teams in-conference the same number of times. So, both teams still have two games against Oregon, the series against the Arizona schools, and one more game against UCLA. Though the Cardinal might need the game more than Cal, it’s pretty crucial for both.
Matchup to Watch
Justin Cobbs vs. Chasson Randle. Both guards are second on their teams in scoring, but are both key to the offenses running smoothly. Cobbs started the season doing great, but his performance has since evened-out, scoring only 29 points in his last three games at a 33.3% clip. Randle, on the other hand, has scored 49 in his last three, shooting 50% from the field. Look for the Bears to put freshman sensation Tyrone Wallace on Randle if Cobbs has trouble.
Unlike their male counterparts, the women’s teams are among the nation’s elite and are both ranked in the top-10. Last Sunday, #7 Cal beat #5 Stanford in Maples Pavilion 67-55, and the Bears ended Stanford’s 81-game (81!) conference winning streak. The Cardinal had won in Berkeley just six days earlier.
The game is on at 1:30 PST on Fox Sports Net.
(As many of you know, FSN is streamed through Comcast SportsNet here in the Bay Area. However, I have AT&T UVerse, and I can’t find the game on either of their two channels or their alternates. Must be some TV rights legal issue, but this is horrible. I thought this was all settled.)