Preview: Pac-10 semifinals

March, 12, 2010
3/12/10
1:39
PM ET
LOS ANGELES -- A quick look at Friday's semifinal games in the Pac-10 tournament:

UCLA-California, 9 p.m. ET

At stake: California (22-9) has all but secured a trip to the NCAA tournament after winning the Pac-10 regular-season title and blowing out Oregon in the Pac-10 tournament, 90-74. As much as the Bears would like to cut down the nets at Staples Center, it seems the best chance the conference has of claiming two bids is if a team other than Cal wins the conference tournament and the hometown Bruins seem to be the most likely team to do it. UCLA’s biggest win this season came in a 76-75 win in overtime at Cal when Michael Roll picked up a loose ball and scored from 13 feet out with 1.9 seconds remaining in OT. Plays like that have been few and far between for UCLA (14-17) this year as the Bruins are in the midst of their third losing season since 1947-48. UCLA, however, technically has the home-court edge and will try to get as many students to brave rush-hour traffic and head to Staples Center by offering discounted tickets for $10 online and at the Staples Center box office before tipoff.

Who has the edge: Cal should win this game fairly easily. The Bears beat the Bruins 72-58 last month at Pauley Pavilion and have won eight of their last nine games, all by double digits. UCLA meanwhile had lost six of eight games before beating Arizona Thursday.

Stat to watch: Cal and UCLA are on polar opposites of the league standings when it comes to scoring margin and free throw percentage, which is no coincidence. While Cal is shooting a league best 74.8 percent from the charity stripe, UCLA is in last place at 62.8 percent. Cal is also the best 3-point shooting team in the Pac-10 (37.7 percent) while UCLA is eighth at 32.5 percent. If Cal can continue to connect on its shots from the charity stripe and beyond the arc while UCLA struggles, Cal should win another game by double digits.

Stanford-Washington, 11:30 p.m. ET

At stake: Washington (22-9) is probably playing for an NCAA tournament berth in its matchup with Stanford (14-17). Advancing to the Pac-10 tournament championship game should be enough to send the Huskies to the NCAAs, although anything outside of winning the tournament is far from a guarantee. Stanford, which in all likelihood knocked Arizona State out of the NCAA tournament with a 70-61 upset win, is looking to play the role of spoiler again against the Huskies and will need to win the tournament to play in the postseason after finishing tied for eighth in the Pac-10 this season.

Who has the edge: Washington has a big advantage after sweeping the season series, winning both games by an average margin of 25 points. Washington has won five straight games while Stanford had lost three straight prior to its win over Arizona State Thursday.

Stat to watch: The Huskies lead the Pac-10 in scoring offense (79.8) and are tied for the lead in scoring margin (plus-9.9) while Stanford is ranked in the lower half of the conference in nearly every statistical category. If Washington plays anywhere near as well as it did in its last two games against Stanford, this game should be a rout.

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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