TIPOFF: 3 p.m. Saturday at Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Ore. TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/910-AM.
With six wins in their past seven games — and four in a row — the Golden Bears are not only the hottest team in the Pac-12 …
They may now be the favorites to win the regular-season crown.
Just one game back of co-leaders Oregon and Arizona, the Bears boast a combined 3-0 record against the Ducks and Wildcats. For starters, that means they own the tiebreaker against both.
Then there’s the remaining schedule. Cal is the only team among the top eight teams in the standings with just one more road game — Saturday against an Oregon State team that is 3-11 in league play. A gimme? No, but a game the Bears should win.
Cal also has potentially the easiest remaining schedule, with no games remaining against the top five teams in the Pac-12 standings. Yes, the Bears lost last month to Colorado and Stanford, but both games were on the road. The rematches will be at Berkeley.
If Cal wins out — and that suddenly seems possible — it finishes 13-5. Only four other teams can even mathematically match that record.
Here’s a look at what lies ahead for the Pac-12’s top seven teams:
— ARIZONA (10-4): vs. WSU, at USC , at UCLA, vs. ASU.
— OREGON (10-4): vs. Stanford, vs. Oregon State, at Colorado, at Utah.
— UCLA (9-4): at USC, vs. ASU, vs. Arizona, at WSU, at Washington.
— CAL (9-5): at Oregon State, vs. Utah, vs. Colorado, vs. Stanford.
— ASU (9-5): vs. Washington, at UCLA, at USC, at Arizona.
— COLORADO (8-6): at Stanford, at Cal, vs. Oregon, vs. Oregon State.
— USC (7-6): vs. UCLA, vs. Arizona, vs. ASU, at Washington, at WSU.
ABOUT THE BEAVERS: The Beavers have been a disappointment in Pac-12 play after an encouraging 10-3 nonconference record that included a win over Purdue and a six-point loss at Kansas. OSU has won just two of its past eight games and is 2-5 in conference home games. … Junior G Roberto Nelson is averaging 22.3 points over the past seven games, but he shot just 13 for 42 the past two games, 10-point home defeats to Washington and Stanford. … Junior G Ahmad Starks, who had 24 against the Bears at Corvallis last season, is battling his own recent shooting slump: 4 for 18 from the field and a 4.3 ppg scoring average the past three games.
THE SERIES: Cal leads 79-60. The Bears have won four of the past five, including a 71-68 verdict in Berkeley last month, in which they rallied from a 41-33 halftime hole. Cal has won just once in its past four trips to OSU. The Beavers won 92-85 at Corvallis a year ago.
ETC: Cal now is 7-9 against teams rated in the top 100 of the RPI computer. … The Bears are 5-1 this month, improving their record to 26-11 in the month of February over their five seasons under coach Mike Montgomery. … Allen Crabbe, with 1,436 career points, is one shy of matching Russ Critchfield (1966-68), who resides in the No. 10 spot on Cal’s career scoring list at 1,437.
WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays Utah on Thursday at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. Tipoff is 6 p.m.
Cal (17-9, 9-5 Pac-12)
|SG Allen Crabbe||6-6||Jr.||19.5||5.7|
|PF Richard Solomon||6-10||Jr.||8.6||6.7|
|PF David Kravish||6-9||So.||8.1||7.0|
|PG Justin Cobbs||6-2||Jr.||14.7||4.6*|
|SG Tyrone Wallace||6-3||Fr.||6.9||4.5|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||Sr.||2.7||2.2*|
|C Robert Thurman||6-10||Sr.||4.9||3.7|
|F Bak Bak||6-9||Sr.||1.7||0.9|
Oregon State (13-14, 3-11 Pac-12)
|C Joe Burton||6-7||Sr.||11.6||6.4|
|PF Eric Moreland||6-10||So.||9.3||10.5|
|SG Challe Barton||6-3||Sr.||2.6||1.1|
|SG Roberto Nelson||6-3||Jr.||17.6||3.2|
|PG Ahmad Starks||5-9||Jr.||11.3||2.3|
|F Devon Collier||6-8||So.||12.9||6.3|
|F Olaf Schaftenaar||6-9||Fr.||3.9||1.1|
|G Langston Morris-Walker||6-5||Fr.||1.7||0.9|