Haas Pavilion in Berkeley is the site for the Hump Day battle between the California Golden Bears and visiting Stanford Cardinal. ESPN 2 will provide the broadcast starting at 9 PM (ET), and the Bears are 3.5 point favorites after opening -4. SBR's live college basketball odds will have the total once it's released, but it should be in the low-140s.
Cal is coming off the big upset of the Wildcats on Saturday, handing Arizona it's first loss of the campaign with a 60-58 decision. The electricity from that win, which came with the Bears getting six points from the oddsmakers, should carry over with the crowd for this one.
The Golden Bears will now go for the regular season sweep of the Cardinal after winning at Stanford in both teams' conference opener on Jan. 2. Once again, California closed as a 6 point underdog in that contest before posting a 69-62 victory. The final fell 10 points short of the total.
With the triumph, Cal moved to 144-116 in the all-time series. Stanford won and covered both meetings last season, the Cardinal's victory at Berkeley their first on this floor since Jan. 2008; the Bears have covered seven of the last 11 matchups.
Cardinal Begin 3-Game Road Trip
Stanford (14-7 straight up, 12-6-1 against the spread) almost beat California to the punch with a closely-fought battle against Arizona just a few days before the Bears got to the 'Cats. Johnny Dawkins' crew had a 4-point lead over 'Zona midway through the second half, but went cold with an 8½-minute scoreless stretch while the Wildcats rallied for the 60-57 win.
It was a similar story in the loss to the Bears earlier this season, though the first scoring drought took place in the first half. Stefan Nastic helped the Cardinal bolt to an early 14-7 advantage in that contest, but they were then outscored 16-4 by Cal over the ensuing 5½ minutes. Stanford fought back to take a 56-54 lead with only five minutes to go in the game, but then fell silent on the offensive end for four minutes.
The Cardinal did bounce back nicely from last week's loss to Arizona, picking up a 76-70 victory on Saturday vs. Arizona State. Stanford came out cold with its first point from the free throw line more than three minutes into the contest, and failed to score a field goal in the final 3½ minutes. But the Cardinal did make 9-of-11 free throws down the stretch to just cover the 5.5 point spread, the total just sliding over the 145 mark that sportsbooks had set for the game.
Bears Can Take Over 2nd In Conference With Win
There really wasn't any indication that California (15-7 SU, 11-10 ATS) was ready to pull of the upset last Saturday. Mike Montgomery's team went into the Arizona game having dropped three straight following a 5-0 start to the Pac-12 schedule, and the Golden Bears had been struggling on both ends of the floor during the skid.
Certainly some of the credit goes to poor games by both Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson who combined to shoot just 5-of-28 from the field, tallying just 12 points between them. The Wildcats actually beat the Bears on the board, turned it over less and shot a perfect 16-for-16 from the charity stripe.
As mentioned, Cal benefitted from Stanford's cold shooting in the first match, plus the Cardinal left 10 points on the free-throw line and had to deal with foul trouble for Nastic and Dwight Powell all game, both eventually fouling out. The difference ended up being the play of Bears guards Justin Cobbs and Tyrone Wallace, who scored 18 and 20 points respectively while combining for 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals.
California could come out fired up and feed off the energy of the crowd to easily beat the Cardinal, but I think a safer bet is on the scoreboard where I like the 'under' for my free NCAA basketball pick.
My pick: Stanford-California Under 141