After a few minor upsets here and there, both the California Golden Bears and USC Trojans will be fighting for something pretty big on Thursday afternoon: A chance to play in the NCAA tournament. Both Cal and USC are currently floating right on Joe Lunardi's bubble, but on the outside looking in. A win against each other could be the first step towards an NCAA at-large bid, particularly for the Trojans. A loss almost certainly means the NIT.
Cal and USC split the season series in very close, high-spirited affairs (which Kodiak of the California Golden Blogs expertly recaps here). Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison dominated inside for the Bears in the first game, while Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stephenson took the second matchup with Cal's bigs. The big equalizer is Allen Crabbe, who didn't play well in the first game but stretched the floor enough for Marcus Simmons to have to play him straight up. He missed the second game with a concussion and that allowed USC to clog the paint inside and not respect the outside shot of the Bears. It was just enough to win.
This could be one competitive game. Both teams know what's at stake and will be going all-out for a chance to stay alive. For more coverage, check out the California Golden Blogs and Conquest Chronicles!