After winning one game in the four-game run of games against top-10 opponents, the Bears must travel to Los Angeles to take on USC and UCLA. Cal lost to UCLA in overtime earlier this season in Berkeley, and the Bears barely beat USC.
After Sunday's 82-74 loss to No. 7 Oregon State, Cal is 5-7 in the Pac-12, tied for seventh place in the conference standings. That certainly is not where the Bears expected to be after a 9-0 start in nonconference play that lifted them to a No. 13 national ranking. Cal is 5-9 since that promising start to the season.
A loss to the Trojans on Friday would drop Cal into a tie with USC, which currently sits in ninth place. UCLA is 8-4 in conference play, three games ahead of Cal and just one game behind third-place Stanford. The Bruins have won six straight games.
The Bears apparently would still be comfortably in the NCAA tournament if the selections were made today, but a few more losses might put them in jeopardy of being left out. The win over Stanford was crucial in that regard, because it gave the Bears a marquee win. So far that is Cal's only such victory.
One good thing about Cal's schedule this season is that the Bears face Oregon and Oregon State only once each.