The Cal men’s basketball team fell out of first place after its loss to Arizona over the weekend and now needs to get back on track on the road in Southern California this week.
“It’s really about numbers. Wins and losses,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “I’m not really looking at anything other than winning the next game. Keeping our head above water, stay in the race, stay in the mix.”
The Golden Bears (18-6, 8-3 Pac-12 Conference) are tied with Colorado for second place and are only one game ahead of Oregon and Arizona for fourth.
This makes it all the more important for Cal to beat USC and UCLA.
“There’s a lot of basketball left to play and there are still seven teams that have a chance to be in the mix,” Montgomery said.
The Golden Bears snuck by with a 53-49 win the last time they saw USC. The Trojans shot 33 percent from the field, but were able to grab 18 offensive rebounds.
“They’re still competing really hard,” Montgomery said of USC. “They just can’t sustain."
Any slip in the final seven games could have Cal playing in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament in March.
Across the Bay, Stanford (16-7, 6-5 Pac-12) is sitting in a similar situation as Cal, but faces a tougher uphill climb.
The Cardinal have lost three of their last four games, and if the Pac-12 Tournament were to begin today, they would be playing in the first round.
Luckily for Stanford, it sits only one game back of Oregon and Arizona for fourth place.
Stanford draws UCLA on Thursday. The last time the two met, Stanford narrowly escaped with a 60-59 victory at Maples Pavilion.
Tough to take: The USF men lost another heartbreaker to Loyola Marymount, this time in Los Angeles over the weekend, 90-88.
With only five conference games remaining, USF (15-10, 5-6 West Coast Conference) will likely not catch either LMU or BYU to earn a first-round bye in the WCC Tournament, but still has to worry about holding off San Diego, which is only one game back of the Dons.
USF hosts Santa Clara, which has yet to win a conference game, on Thursday, before hitting the road to take on San Diego on Saturday.