Beginning Monday, although 4,918 miles apart in Maui and Brooklyn, respectively, the Cal and Stanford basketball teams will have the same goal: To find out how they stack up against competition that is better than they've seen so far.
"The four games we played, we should have won," said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, whose Bears (4-0) face Arkansas (3-0) in the opening round of the Maui Invitational. "Now all these teams are solid. Some are really good, some could be really good."
Stanford (3-1), having moved past a defensive hiccup in a 112-103 loss to BYU two weeks ago, plays Houston (4-0) on Monday at the two-day Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, the Stanford women's team heads to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where coach Tara VanDerveer will have three chances at the Hardwood Tournament of Hope beginning Tuesday to become just the fifth Division I women's coach to reach 900 victories.
The No. 5 Cardinal (4-1) faces Purdue on Tuesday, Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday and South Dakota State on Thursday. With two wins, VanDerveer joins an exclusive club featuring Pat Summitt (1,098 wins), Sylvia Hatchell (908), C. Vivian Stringer (905) and Jody Conradt (900).
At Maui, the Cal men will test themselves at one of the best tournaments on the schedule every year. The field this season features eight teams with a combined record of 30-0, including No. 9 Syracuse (4-0), No. 13 Gonzaga (4-0) and No. 20 Baylor (4-0).
"They research this pretty well," Montgomery said. "They know who's going to be on your team before they invite you, to avoid bad games."
If Cal survives the full-court pressure of Arkansas, the Bears could get Syracuse in a rematch of the NCAA tournament game that ended their season last year. Senior point guard Justin Cobbs said he wants another shot at the Orange, even though the alternative would be Minnesota, where he began his career.
"I'm eager to play against that zone (defense) again," he said.
Cobbs said freshman Jabari Bird, who leads the team with a 13.5 scoring average, won't be distracted by the glare of the big stage.
"He knows what kind of player he is," Cobbs said. "All the exposure for him and the team comes with the team winning and him producing. He has no problem doing that."
In Brooklyn, the Stanford men, after their game Monday against Houston, will face either Pitt (4-0) or Texas Tech (4-1) on Tuesday.
"We're going to have to play well," Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins said. "That's what it's about. You want be able to gauge yourself against good teams."
As expected, Chasson Randle and Dwight Powell have played well for the Cardinal, which also has gotten a nice lift from Anthony Brown, sidelined all of last season with a hip injury.
"I'm really proud of Anthony," Dawkins said of the junior wing, who scored a career-high 23 points last week against Texas Southern. "I didn't know what to expect from him, but he changes everything for us."
The event remains alive, despite the fact that co-founder and benefactor Art Santo Domingo stepped away after last year. "There's nobody quite like him," athletic director Dan Coonan said of Santo Domingo, who donated about $80,000 just last year to fund the event.
Donors have made up the difference this year, and Coonan is seeking corporate sponsorship as the athletic department begins planning for a special 50th Cable Car in 2016.
"We'd really like to blow it out that year," Coonan said.
The Broncos (2-2) will face North Dakota State at 8 p.m. Friday, after Rice, led by former Cal coach Ben Braun, takes on Rider.
Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.
HAVE GAME, WILL TRAVEL