Cal Men's Basketball Preview: Bears host #3 Arizona Wildcats in return to Haas Pavilion
Can the Bears use an upset as a restart point?
Date: Sunday January 23rd, 2022 (12PM Pac-12 Networks)
Opponent: Arizona Wildcats
Record: 15-1 (Conference: 5-0)
Standings: 1st in Pac-12
KenPom Ranking: #3
Opponent Team Stats: 88.3PPG/43.1RPG/21.8APG/7.8SPG/13.8TPG
Expected Starting 5
Guard Kerr Kriisa
Guard Pelle Larsson
Forward Bennedict Mathurin
Forward Azuolas Tubelis
Forward Christian Koloko
One week off after a rescheduling, opened up an entire week for the Bears. Now comes #3 Arizona. The hottest team in the country. A top 15 offense by most metrics. A top 5 defense by most metrics. That added with the unknown of how the Washington State Covid situation will have any effect on the Cal roster, it bodes to be a tough game for the slumping Bears. The Bears’ strength was scoring inside the arc but has struggled there of late. The Wildcats on the other hand have the #1 2PT defense in the nation only allowing 39.4%. They actually have the #2 effective FG% defense in the country. It’s going to be tough for the Bears to get good looks for an already struggling offense. Defensively, it doesn’t look to be any easier for the Bears, but the matchup is better. The Bears statistically cover the Wildcats offense in terms of 2PT% and 3PT% defensively. The issue arises when the efficiency and possession lengths come into play. Arizona has the fastest offense in the country with their average possession being 14.4 seconds. The Bears on the other hand want offensives to play late into the shot clock, forcing them to have an average possession of 17.2%. The Bears are going to have to play their best defensive game and flip their offensive output. Even then it looks to be a tough game to pull off the upset.
And if you missed there Bears’ last game against Washington State make sure to check out the recap.
Cal’s Win Probability and Score according to KenPom: 13% (63-75 Loss)
Go Bears. I hope we can hang in there and be competitive. If we are, I hope Fox improves his inside 3 minute decision making. He tends not to make strategic use out of timeouts, and the Bears tend to play methodically as if time was not an issue. This must change.
A tough matchup for just about every team in the nation, but particularly Cal
Their 2 7 footers mean it will be tough to get any buckets from perimeter players around the baskets and AZ will extend their defense to make it tough on our shooters as they know they have a rim protector behind them
Only hope is if Kelly can still score with his elite footwork and get their shot blocker in foul trouble
I think we see a lot of Lars today, especially against their backup center as we really have no one else to defend the post besides Kelly, and he will already have his hands full