We may only be two games into the conference season, but tonight will give us a good feel on who is a contender and who is a pretender in the Pac-12. The game that most fits that bill will take place tonight in Corvallis when 2-0 California meets 0-2 Oregon State. For the visiting Golden Bears, a loss won’t make or break their chances at a conference crown, but it could be listed as a bad loss on a tournament résumé that is sure to be on the bubble come March. On the other side is Oregon State, where a victory is crucial after being swept in Washington last week. For the Beavers to have any shot at an at-large into the NCAA Tournament, a 3-1 record over their next four games is a must. So of course, they could lose tonight and win their next three, but that is highly unlikely as Stanford and Arizona are on the horizon. Despite this being one of the best games of the week and boasting multiple talented players on each side, the game will not be televised or webcast. That means the winner may get a little national attention just from being on ESPN’s bottom line, but the loser would likely fall from the nation’s radar for a LONG time.
For the Beavers to get a win tonight they will need to rely on their defense. They have played three teams this season that are at Cal’s level offensively, and so far they are 1-2. The one win came against Texas, a game in which the Beavers were able to get out on multiple fast breaks after stepping into the Longhorn passing lanes. The Beavers would score a total of 100 points in a game where they actually didn’t shoot the ball that well, but they got the win because of their great defense. That is what they need to do here if they want to have a chance.