PREDICTION - USC AT CALIFORNIAWe never thought we'd miss Eric Vierneisel so much.
On Thursday night it looked like there was a big difference between a nine-man Bears squad with EV and an eight-man squad without him. Not to beat up on Alex Pribble, who plays very good defense - probably better than Vierneisel. But Pribble can't be counted on to add the six to twelve points that Vierneisel would add on a nightly basis. And those six to twelve points are pretty important for a team that just scored 46 points in forty minutes.
So where do the points come from? The Bears can beat the Trojans if they get typical performances from each of their big two - Ryan Anderson and Ayinde Ubaka - and if another one or two guys step up as well. Against the Bruins Ubaka was apparently ill and of course was held scoreless. Without production from the point, Cal will continue to struggle against all but the dregs of the conference.
And USC of course is far from the dregs - they're an athletic team that plays excellent defense like their crosstown rivals. They are also pretty deep, bringing four good reserves off the bench. The Trojans are content to play a low-scoring game, which is good considering Cal's offensive woes.
So will the Bears step it up on the offensive end? It's anyone's guess. We're betting that they will, and that the Bears will take the must-win end of this LA home-stand by a whisker. We see Ayinde coming back and Theo having another good game. We see Gibson in foul trouble and a relatively poor shooting afternoon for USC from both the field and the line. Call it the power of positive thinking - or perhaps thinking with our heart instead of our head. In any event, call it: