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Cal MBB vs. USC 2009.02.26 Open Thread

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Another big game for the Bears, as they begin a brutal final four game stretch to end the Pac-10 season: USC, UCLA, @Arizona, @ASU. The Bears can still win the Pac-10 regular season title; they could also finish at .500 in the conference and miss the NCAA tournament. Heavy, heavy stuff, but just being in the conference title hunt is a welcome change for our Bears.

Tonight's game vs. USC may actually be the Bears' best shot at getting to 10 conference wins and clinching a winning conference record. With a partial, home crowd behind them, I expect quite a bit of support for the Bears. Yes, they did lose by 11 down at the Galen Center last month, but it was a tight game until late in the second half, and the Bears were close despite shooting a terrible 2-16 from beyond the arc. USC has the type of athletic guards needed to harass Cal's shooters, but in the previous matchup, this left the middle wide-open, and Jordan Wilkes responded with a career-high 16 points and 9 rebounds, nearly matching Jamal Boykin's 18-10 double-double.

Meanwhile, the Trojans are staggering through their conference slate, having lost 4 of 5 to fall to just 7-7 in Pac-10 play, watching their NCAA hopes fade along with their conference title aspirations. They've even taken to roster infighting. If they're going pick their dying season up off the mat, it has to start now. Either USC will rally together after the embarrassing fight, or they'll fall apart completely as locker room tensions become too much. Your guess is as good as mine as to which way this goes.

Your game information:

USC Trojans (16-10, 7-7) at California Golden Bears (20-7, 9-5)
Thursday, Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, Calif.
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM) TV: Comcast SportsNet California

JustinTV streams the game. As does ChannelSurfing.