The Pac-12 Networks will not only showcase the premier women’s basketball game of the Pac-12 season Tuesday night. It will be the home of one of the marquee matchups in all of college basketball this season.
The networks will be in Berkeley on Tuesday to broadcast the women’s basketball showdown between No. 5 Stanford and No. 7 Cal. The battle will not only give one team the early upper hand in the conference race, it will have major implications on the national landscape as well.
“I think it’s a fantastic matchup,” said Pac-12 Networks analyst Mary Murphy, who will call Tuesday’s game along with Krista Blunk. “I think the bell is ringing for Cal. It’s time. And Stanford is Stanford. Stanford expects to win. Stanford expects to be the champion.”
The Cardinal (13-1, 2-0 Pac-12) has won 80 Pac-12 games in a row – the Cardinal’s last loss came against Cal in 2009, when the Bears were a Sweet Sixteen team. Since 1994, Stanford is 41-3 against the Bears.
But at 12-1 (2-0 Pac-12), the Bears are off to the best start in program history. They have their entire nucleus back from last year’s team that played national runner-up Notre Dame tough before losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Their only loss this season came at then-No. 4 Duke, while Stanford’s lone setback came at the hands of then-No. 2 Connecticut.
“If Cal is going to do it, they have to do it now,” Murphy said. “This is the team. To me, this is Cal’s year. They had a preseason schedule that prepared them.”
Both Stanford and Cal swept tough opening road trips to Colorado and Utah last weekend to begin the conference season. Prior to that, the Cardinal was coming off the tough loss to UConn. But the Cardinal also has registered quality wins over then-No. 1 Baylor as well as then-No. 10 Tennessee.
“UConn played a fantastic game against Stanford,” Murphy said. “They were clicking on all cylinders. I think Stanford just got a little back on their heels. But the thing I love about Tara (VanDerveer) is she is all about March and April. She would love to win every game, but the expectation that (Stanford) should win every game, that’s kind of ridiculous.”
While Cal has had a winning program for the past several years, the Bears are playing at as high a level as they ever have this season. Cal is trying to get to the level that Stanford has been at for a very long time – to be considered among the nation’s elite.
Murphy says Cal is there, and that should make for a memorable showdown Tuesday.
“To me, Cal is a legitimate team on the national scene,” Murphy said. “They’ve been playing the disrespect card for the past couple years but they can’t play it anymore. They are respected. They are the seventh-ranked team in the country. And Stanford is Stanford. I think the respect for the conference has elevated dramatically in the last year.”