Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb knows why women's basketball fans want to tune in Monday night when the seventh-seeded Golden Bears play No. 2 Baylor in the second-round of the NCAA tournament.
The game at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, features two of the country's most dynamic guards: Baylor's three-time All-American Odyssey Sims and Cal's Brittany Boyd.
"From a fan perspective, anytime you have Odyssey Sims and Brittany Boyd on the court I think that's something to watch," Gottlieb said Sunday.
The atmosphere could be electrifying because of the furious pace the talented guards like to play as Cal (22-9) faces a big hurdle in its attempt to return to the Final Four.
Sims, a 5-foot-8 senior from Irving, Texas, is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy as national college player of the year. She averages 28.4 points per game, which ranks second nationally. Sims also averages 4.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals. She is Baylor's career leader in assists (619) and 3-point baskets (249).
Boyd, a 5-9 junior from Berkeley, averages 14.7 points a game and 6.8 rebounds. She also leads the Bears in assists (178) and steals (86) this season.
"Odyssey by herself is electric," Gottlieb said. "Brittany may be one of the only players in the country, who with her size and speed and the way she affects our team, is similar in any way."
Boyd didn't offer much insight into the guard matchup a day scoring the winning shot as Cal escaped with a 64-63 victory over No. 10 Fordham. Ther Berkeley guard instead talked about the excitement of reaching the second round.
Sims said Sunday she didn't know much about Boyd until seeing her play Saturday night on Baylor's home court.
"She leads their team, she's kind of the glue on their offense and keeps them going whether she scores or not," Sims said. "They need her to be out there. It'll be a great matchup and I'm looking forward to it."
Cal, which lost two in a row before struggling Saturday, needs Boyd hitting all cylinders to have a reasonable chance against Sims and the Lady Bears (30-4).
But Gottlieb said having Boyd in practice this season has helped teammates
prepare for fast-paced Baylor.
"The way our players think it is tough to press Boyd it is similar to Odyssey," the Cal coach said. "She is so good at just being able to individually be able to overcome whatever the game plan is against her."
Sims expects to see almost a mirror image in Cal: "It's a team full of athletes," she said. "We're going to have to defend because they can attack you off the dribble so it'll be a great matchup."
As quick as Cal is, the Bears might have to change the tempo while facing Sims, who has become Baylor's leader with the graduation of center Brittney Griner, last year's No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA.
Cal's biggest concern is getting out of rhythm while changing tempos to slow Baylor. Gottlieb said she will play to the Bears' strengths while trying to avoid a big Baylor run.
If Boyd has a say, Cal happily will try to stay with the Lady Bears.
"We really don't like the slow-paced game and I think this is going be a track meet," she said. "We've been preparing all season for a game like this."