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Cal Basketball Open Thread: Men at USC, Women vs. USC

Cal men at USC

Tipoff: A few minutes past 7:30 PM PST/10:30 PM EST
TV: None. Thanks Pac-10 TV contract!
Radio: KFRC 1550 AM (It's a Roxy night!)--click for the link!
Line: Cal by 1

Cal women vs. USC
Time: 7:00 PM PST
TV: None
Radio:, 90.7 FM - KALX
Streams: stream!

This is probably the most difficult game left on our schedule--our toughest opponents come to Haas. Win this one and Cal could be in great shape going into the homestretch.

(This preview is literally a carbon copy of last January's preview of Cal-USC at Haas. If there's anything I am, it's totally unoriginal.)

What to watch: Cal offense versus USC defense

This is the matchup everyone is looking out for--how can the Bears high powered offense (6th most efficient) matchup with the determined Trojan defense (2nd most efficient). Currently 84.4, they give up 42.4% eFG (10th in the country); Cal is 51st in eFG offense at 52.4%. The Bears are one of the faster paced units in the country (58th); the Trojans are one of the slowest (328th).

So like all things, we probably come up somewhere in the middle.

  • If the Bears can shoot over 45% they probably win, barring magical USC shooting (the Trojans are 197th in offensive efficency, 203rd in eFG%)
    If the Bears keep the pace going (say about 68 or more adjusted possessions), they'll be playing at a tempo that favors their game. Especially if they can force turnovers--USC has a LOT of them (23.1% of their possessions, 287th in the country), and if Cal can get running, that might give them the cushion they need to pull away.

After the jump is norcalnick's preview of the women's game vs USC.

Back in early January I said that USC didn't match up well with Cal and I thought the Bears would emerge with a victory. USC proceeded to shoot .500 from 3 point range and Ashley Corral hit a buzzer beater, bank shot 3 in an exciting, back and forth game in Los Angeles. I'm coming back and again arguing that Cal matches up well with USC and forecasting a win.

California 48.2 43.8 21.4 17.9
USC 44.7 30.3 13.3 28.1

Four factors from Cal's previous game against USC

Rarely does Cal lose a game in which they outshoot an opponent, but USC managed to pull it off because Cal couldn't hold onto the ball and because USC made more foul shots. My hope is that 1) Cal will continue to improve their turnover numbers of late as the freshmen get more comfortable in the offense and 2) a little Haas Pavilion home cooking will mean less free throws for the Trojans.

Cal was averaging almost 18 turnovers a game when they last played USC. Since that game they've never had more than 15 in a game, perhaps the key statistic explaining Cal's turnaround from an 0-3 start in conference. Despite 17 turnovers against USC Cal had such an advantage rebounding and scoring in the paint that the Bears almost won anyway.

Besides ball security the key will be shutting down Ashley Corral and Brianna Gilbreath. USC's offense works best when Corral is hitting 3's and both players are getting to the line a lot. Paradoxically, USC shoots rather poorly from the field, but very well from the line, so Joanne Boyle needs to sway those refs as best she can.

I want revenge. I want revenge for USC's victory in the conference tournament last year, and I want revenge for their buzzer beater this year. If Cal wins then they'll have easily their most important game of the year on Saturday. If they lose then the conference tourney is the only way to get into the Big Dance. Crash teh board, draw some fouls, and GO BEARS!