2013 Pac-12 tournament: Cal, UCLA take the court on day two

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

After an eventful day in Seattle on Day One of the 2013 Pac-12 women's basketball tournament, the California Golden Bears and UCLA Bruins jump into the fray on Day Two.

The 2013 Pac-12 tournament continues with the California Golden Golden Bears and UCLA Bruins embarking upon their post-season runs in today's afternoon doubleheader at KeyArena.

And although these teams both earned themselves byes to get an extra day of rest, these matchups won't be easy for them.

Schedule (PST):

Noon: #2 Cal vs. #7 USC

2:30 p.m.: #3 UCLA vs. #6 Utah

Analysis:

California Golden Bears vs. USC Women of Troy

The fact that USC took Cal into overtime might be all you need to know about their chances to register an upset today.

Cal was up by 6 with 16:18 left in the game and USC made a run to take a 6 point lead of their own with just under two minutes left. The difference-maker for USC in that game was Ariya Crook, who scored 21 points without making a 2-point field goal.

Cal did go to L.A. and beat USC by the same margin, but it's probably worth noting that 6-foot-4 forward Kate Oliver wasn't playing in that game after recording a double-double in the first game with 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting. And she played 40 mins in that first game because 6-foot-1 Christina Marinacci was out the first time around.

In other words, Cal never faced USC's full roster. And USC stayed right with them. Having both of those players back is huge against a team like Cal that looks to dominate the boards is pretty significant.

eFg%

Fta/Fga

Oreb%

Tov%

Cal

43.68%

35.42%

43.99%

0.15

Opp

40.94%

27.83%

29.34%

0.21

Weighted

eFg%

fta/fga

Oreb%

Tov%

Cal

0.27

0.16

0.62

0.44

Cal Four Factors statistics during Pac-12 conference play. Click here to see USC's.

USC wasn't able to keep Cal forward Gennifer Brandon of the boards in either game as she had 36 rebounds in two games, including a record 26 in the first game in overtime. Not that Brandon will be setting records again, but USC is not adept at keeping opponents off the boards.

USC's hope to win today's game lies in the fact that they haven't really brought their "A" game against Cal thus far this season: in addition to players being out, junior forward Cassie Harberts had a 4-for-17 shooting performance in the second meeting. If they get everything clicking - Crook and Harberts scoring inside and out, minimizing turnovers, and keep Cal's posts in check - they've definitely proven they can win this game.

Yet as long as Cal can control that rebounding battle to get second chance points - and force USC into turnovers - they should be able win.

UCLA Bruins vs. Utah Utes

This is an interesting one because it's a bit of a contrast in styles: Utah, as Arizona found yesterday, is a slow-it-down, grind-it-out type team that wants force opponents to execute as well as they can. UCLA is at their best when they're forcing turnovers and getting scoring opportunities in transition. And it was a combination of turnovers and rebounding that hurt the Utes in their 70-42 loss to UCLA in their lone regular season meeting.

That's just what UCLA can do to people.

eFg%

Fta/Fga

Oreb%

Tov%

UCLA

46.55%

27.77%

38.87%

0.22

Opp

41.48%

35.05%

32.81%

0.22

Weighted

eFg%

fta/fga

Oreb%

Tov%

UCLA

0.51

-0.15

0.25

-0.03

UCLA Four Factors statistics during Pac-12 conference play. Click here for Utah's numbers.

UCLA's success is predicated on elite athleticism and the ability to impose that on opponents to their advantage. It's not always pretty, but it has been difficult to argue with the result this season (though perhaps not impossible).

Working in Utah's favor is that they've been on a roll lately winning 6 of their last 8; their two losses in that time were to Arizona - who they beat yesterday - and Oregon State, who managed to outshoot Utah 61.9% to 27.3%. They can play and, as yesterday showed, they can get hot and completely control the rhythm of a game.

UCLA, however, is arhythmic, almost denying opponents to establish a rhythm. To beat them takes not only execution offensively but discipline defensively in forcing them to rely on their weaknesses and challenging forward Markell Walker to do more than she really should be. Utah can certainly do that and their win yesterday against Arizona suggests they're peaking, but UCLA also has the posts to neutralize the impact of Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski.

This should be a good one, but UCLA probably has what it takes to come away with the victory.

Predictions:

Cal def. USC

UCLA def. Utah

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