Haas Pavilion provides a great environment for college basketball, and things have fallen into place nicely for Cal's basketball arena to be a special place during the final week of the regular season.
Because of a hot streak during the second half of the season - the Bears have won five in a row and seven of their last eight - Cal has firmly put itself in the race to win its second Pac-12 regular season championship in the last four years. The Bears are battling Oregon, UCLA and Arizona for the conference crown.
The first ingredient to a Cal championship will be to win its final three regular season games. All three of those games are at Haas Pavilion, beginning Thursday night against Utah.
"There's going to be a lot of hype in Haas," Cal forward Robert Thurman said. "I think Haas is going to be rocking. I think there are going to be a lot of people here. The energy is going to be great."
Following Thursday's matchup against Utah, the Bears then host Colorado on Saturday and rival Stanford in their regular season finale next Wednesday.
Cal currently stands in fourth place in the Pac-12 standings, but only one game behind conference co-leaders Oregon and UCLA. The Bears are also one-half game behind Arizona, which lost to USC on Wednesday night. Cal owns the tiebreak against all three of the other teams vying for the Pac-12 title.
UCLA escaped Arizona State in overtime Wednesday night but still has to play Arizona on Saturday. Two of Oregon's final three games are on the road, including a tough one at Colorado next weekend.
"We just have to stay focused for one more week and one day," Cal point guard Justin Cobbs said at Tuesday's weekly press conference. "If we win those three games, the rest is out of our hands. If we take care of our business, hopefully we put ourselves in great position to win a Pac-12 championship."
The Bears were in the race for the Pac-12 title last season before coming up short at the end. But this year, as the past eight games suggest, Cal is heading into the stretch run playing its best basketball of the season.
"Last year, I think we peaked too early," Thurman said. "Now, I think we are peaking at the right time. I think we just need to keep that momentum. I think we're going to come out and play really hard."