The Cal-Stanford series is not only a hotly contested rivalry, but the games usually play a role in deciding the Pac-12 champion each season.
This year is no different as Cal (16-5 overall) sits in a tie for second place in the conference (only because Washington played yesterday and the Bears don't play until today) with a 6-2 record and Stanford (15-5 overall) is close behind with a 5-3 league mark.
The Bears and Cardinal did not face any common opponents on the non-conference portion of their schedules, however both played UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Utah and Colorado in league action. Here are the results of each school's game.
Opponent Cal Stanford
UCLA W, 85-69 W, 60-59
USC W, 53-49 W, 51-43
at Oregon W, 77-60 L, 78-67
at Oregon State L, 92-85 W, 103-101 (OT)
Colorado W, 57-50 W, 84-64
Utah W, 81-45 W, 68-65
at Washington W, 69-66 L, 76-63
at Washington State L, 77-75 L, 81-69
Now, let's take a look back at the last couple of years and break down the matchups since Mike Montgomery took over as head coach of the Bears beginning with the 2008-09 season.
Cal owns a 4-2 record against Stanford with Montgomery in charge of the Bears. Cal also holds a commanding 29-game lead in the all-time series and has won 55 of the 98 games played in Berkeley. The closest final score between the two teams in the last three years was a six-point game in the first meeting between the two schools with Montgomery at the helm of the Bears in 2008-09.
Last season, the Bears and Cardinal split a pair of regular season contests with Cal winning in Berkeley (74-55) and Stanford winning holding serve at home (82-68). In the first meeting of the year at Maples Pavilion, Harper Kamp's 16 points weren't enough as Stanford shot 72.2 percent from the field in the second half and were led by Jeremy Green's 21 points and Dwight Powell's 20. It was the first time Cal had allowed more than 80 points in a game last season. In the final game of the 2010-11 regular season, Cal stormed out of the gates and never looked back, cruising to the victory at Haas Pavilion. The Bears converted eight of their initial 14 shots and held Stanford to just 2-of-13 from the field out of the gates to open up a 19-4 early lead. Then freshmen Allen Crabbe scored 21 of his 24 points in the second half and Kamp added 20 in the victory.
Cal swept the season series from Stanford in 2009-10, winning both contests by double digits. The Bears opened conference play with a 92-66 victory at Haas Pavilion and closed the regular-season campaign with a 71-61 victory over at Maples Pavilion. In the first matchup, Jerome Randle led all scorers with 24 points and seven assists, while Max Zhang contributed 13 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots to give Cal its biggest win in the Bay area rivalry in more than 20 years, since an 81-53 win on Feb. 15, 1986. Patrick Christopher scored 23 points in the ladder matchup to not only give the Bears the sweep of the Cardinal but also help Cal secure the outright Pac-10 title with the win in Maples Pavilion. It was the first season sweep of Stanford for the Bears since the 1992-93 season. Landry Fields' 25 points and 12 rebounds weren't enough for the Cardinal, who lost by double figures for the second time to Cal.
Both games were closely-contested in 2008-09, with the largest margin of victory coming by seven points. Cal rebounded from a 75-69 loss at Stanford with an 82-75 victory in Berkeley later in the season.
In the first matchup, Stanford's Lawrence Hill poured in a career-best 25 points, while Jamal Boykin led the 22nd-ranked Bears with a career-best 22 points. For Montgomery, the former Stanford mentor, it was his first appearance at Maples as head coach of the Bears. Theo Robertson, who finished with 17 points, hit back-to-back three-pointers in the final 1:36, but it wasn't enough in a game that featured 15 lead changes and 10 ties.
We saved the best for last. Cal celebrated its 100th season of basketball that featured members of the 1959 NCAA Championship team honored at halftime, with a historic comeback victory over the Cardinal. While Christopher (21) and Randle (18) combined for 39 points to lead the Bears to the seven-point victory at Haas Pavilion, it was a freshman guard that made one of the key shots down the stretch to help secure the victory. The Bears trailed by as much as 22 points in the first half and were down by 14 at halftime. Cal went with a three-guard lineup to open the second half that included then-freshman guard Jorge Gutierrez. The first-year player showed his defensive prowess with five steals (most by a Cal player in more than three years) and recorded 10 points and eight rebounds in the contest. Cal captured its first lead (72-71) with 3:04 to go in the contest. Gutierrez made a key shot with 1:37 remaining to complete the comeback and the Bears held Stanford to just one field goal in the final 8:04 of the game.
That same Gutierrez is now a senior and will suit up for the Bears in today's contest. Considered one of the elite players and top defenders in the nation, the guard expects to play a major role in today's contest. Who knows what today will bring, but I can guarantee you it will be fun for the fans at Haas Pavilion.