Records Mean Nothing When Cal, Stanford Face Off Saturday

One team's student body mascot is a tree. The other team's student body likes to sit in trees. They couldn't be more different! Expect to hear several variations of "these two teams just don't like each other" when Cal and Stanford square off again at Saturday at Haas Pavilion.

And as is befitting a rivalry game, the team with the better record isn't necessarily a solid bet to win. Expect no love here on Valentine's Day. Cal's Golden Bears are clearly the superior squad this year -- 18-6 overall, a Top 25 team (well, depending on the week), an astonishing 14-1 at Haas -- yet the underachieveing Cardinal beat them solidly in their Jan. 17 matchup. The Cardinal are never underachievers when Cal is their opponent.

The Cardinal aren't looking to make the NIT so much as they're looking to keep Cal out of the NCAA.

The Golden Bears' point guard Jerome Randle has the hot hand, averaging over 18 a game and shooting close to .500 from downtown land.  He's the second-leading scorer in the PAC-10. But against Stanford last month, the Cardinal effectively flummoxed Randle into a weak game and six turnovers.  Stanford point guard Mitch Johnsonalways pays his A-game against Cal, actually, Stanford point guard Mitch Johnson doesn't have an A-game unless he's playing Cal.

Cal are five-point favorites to win this game, but the oddsmakers don't understand the unique nature of this rivalry. They just can't see the forest for the trees.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who expects no love on Valentine's Day.

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