Game Day Preview: California Golden Bears


University of California, Berkeley (Public – Research Institution)
Mascot: Golden Bears
Location: Berkeley, CA
Enrollment: 35,000

Current Record: 15-4 (5-1 in Pac-12 Conference)
RPI: 42        SOS: 98

Coach: Mike Montgomery (4th year)

First Thought: California was the sure bet coming into this season as the Pac-12 favorite, not as much change, not as much turmoil. This team seems to be one of the few in the Pac-12 that could actually remain steady throughout the year depending on how well their big men play throughout the course of the season and who steps up with the loss of Richard Solomon.

Best Win: 57-50 over Colorado (RPI 54)
Worst Loss: 85-92 at Oregon State (RPI 147)
Last Game: 81-45 over Utah (RPI 249)

Synopsis: Cal hasn’t been overly impressive this season yet they have been effective. They have won all but one of the games they should have won (Oregon State), and lost all of the games they should have lost. They have blown out teams like San Jose State and Utah but at the same time let USC, arguably the worst team in the Pac-12, almost beat them at home. They were blown out by Missouri and UNLV felt comfortable in their win against them. This team just doesn’t seem ready to hang with the top competition, yet they seem ready to take on teams equal to them and beat up on teams that are weaker.

My analysis: Cal’s top players are Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe, and Justin Cobbs.

Gutierrez is known as one of the top guards in the Pac-12. He averages almost 15 points and 5 rebounds a game. He knows how to get in the lane and take it to the hoop. He has found himself at the line 68 times and has converted 54 of those shots (80%). The “And 1” is something he excels at and loves to see happen. The Huskies cannot afford to have that happen too many times in this game.

Crabbe can shoot the three, he has made 51 three point shots this year at an impressive 45%. He leads the team in points per game (PPG) at nearly 16. Last year’s freshman of the year also leads his team in rebounds at 6 a game. He makes plays and knows how to score. The Husky defense will need to draw something special up to shut Crabbe down.

Cobbs has a staggering 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. He averages nearly 5 assists a game on only 2 turnovers. He can also shoot the three and is deadly from the free-throw line.

The big men is where Cal struggles, their top big is Harper Kamp who is not very effective in rebounding the basketball but does average almost 10 points a game. The other big man was Richard Solomon but he has been deemed academically ineligible and will not play the remainder of the season.

My Prediction:

This game will be a big test for UW, as Cal has consistent talent and UW has inconsistent talent. The Huskies will also be missing CJ Wilcox and may use true-freshman Hikeem Stewart for sizable minutes in his place. It won’t be an easy win for the Huskies, and if the wrong Husky team shows up on the floor (the one with all the issues), this game could get ugly for the Dawgs. On the other hand, if UW shows up with a team that plays defense, takes smart shots, and out runs their opponents, the game could get ugly for Cal. Best guess is that it falls somewhere between those two extremes.

UW 85  Cal 79