Rancho Santiago College opens the men's community college state basketball tournament quarterfinal round against Merced on Thursday at 9 p.m. at Loyola Marymount University.
Rancho Santiago is 28-4; Merced is 26-8.
Saddleback (25-7) plays Skyline (28-3) at 5 p.m, and the winner plays the winner of the Rancho Santiago-Merced game Friday at 8 p.m.
If Rancho Santiago and Saddleback meet, it will be the fourth time this season. Rancho Santiago has won the first three, 65-64, 65-60 and 49-47.
In the other bracket, Compton (25-6) plays San Joaquin Delta (28-2) at 7 p.m. and Columbia (26-8) plays Ventura (28-4) at 3 p.m.