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March 13, 2012Record: 24-9, 13-5 Pac-12
Coach: Mike Montgomery (fourth season at Cal, 29th season as head coach)
Key contributors: Sophomore guard Allen Crabbe (6-foot-6), 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds; senior guard Jorge Gutierrez (6-foot-3), 13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists; sophomore guard Justin Cobb (6-foot-2), 12.9 points, 5 assists.
Season in review: California had a good conference season, but it limps into the tournament, losing three of its last four games, including two to Pac-12 tournament champion Colorado. The Golden Bears lost three games in the nonconference, including blowout losses to Missouri and UNLV, and has only one win against an NCAA tournament team (Colorado) all season long.
Outlook for Wednesday: The Golden Bears have arguably been the best team in the Pac-12 throughout the season, but that doesn't mean much, as according to RPI rankings, the conference was the 10th best in the country. Not surprisingly, the Golden Bears, who have four players averaging in double figures, have the more efficient offense, leading the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (48). But USF has proved it can win games against good teams by toughing it out on the defense end and playing a slow-tempo, limited possession type of game. The Golden Bears may have the better offensive talent, but the Bulls have proved it can compensate with stifling defense and relentless rebounding. Expect another close, low-scoring game on Wednesday. The winner advances to play fifth-seeded Temple on Friday in the Midwest Region.