The short answer, I think, is yes.
Of course, there is a pretty important assumption that goes into this:
- We lose to Ucla, ASU, and Zona
And it seems to me that's not an out-of-possibility assumption.
But back to the point, beating SC should ensure an NCAA tourney bid by giving us that magical 20th win and guaranteeing a top-half of the conference finish. .
Losing to SC puts us in danger of sliding out of the top five, and even with a strong RPI and solid conference wins against Zona, ASU, and Washington twice, the NCAA committee likely won't look kindly on a five-game slide and #6 finish (see: assumption).
Now naturally, Cal has a better than puncher's chance against Ucla, Zona, and ASU but out of the four, SC seems like the best chance to get win 20.
So, is it doable? Oh yeah. The first game in LA was close, and it seems we match up pretty well against the Trojans. And, considering their team right now is showing some big cracks and there's evidence of internal discord, it seems as if they may not be strong enough to pull out a big win on the road. Add to that our strong play at home, and the odds are with us. But then again, SC isn't a pushover, and the Bears have shown a tendency to sometimes have a prolonged streak of ineffective play (for lack of a better term).
All in all, Thursday will be a big day for this team. A win gets them into the tournament and makes this one of the most surprising and over-achieving seasons in Cal hoops in a long long time. A loss, and we may have to settle for another trip to the NIT hell.