Arizona, Cal Need to Make Statement for Pac-12 Saturday

By Evan Barnes
Joshua S Kelly – USA TODAY Sports Images

This Saturday there are two important Pac-12 games that could make a big national statement. Creighton at California and the big one, Florida vs. Arizona.

Arizona may be the best team in the Pac-12, but they have had a very soft schedule. Nearly losing to Southern Mississippi showed the results of that as the No. 8 Wildcats struggled to put them away until the final minutes. What’s going to happen when they face a juggernaut No. 5 Florida team that hasn’t struggled against tougher competition as fellow Rant scribe Trevor Lowry pointed out.

The McKale Center is not an easy place for visiting teams to play and as impressed as I am with Florida’s resume, I think it could be a statement game for Arizona. The Wildcats have the size to keep up with Florida’s physicality, so it’ll come down to which team shoots better. I think Florida wins, but don’t be surprised if Arizona pulls it off due to the crowd advantage and lessons learned from their last two games (Southern Miss and Clemson).

While Creighton-Cal might be on a smaller scale, I think it’s just as important because Cal is hosting the No. 16 Blue Jays and as I mentioned this week, they haven’t won a game in December. Cal needs to re-establish themselves as a Pac-12 contender and doing so against the Blue Jays would be a big boost.

I’m looking forward to seeing the the nation’s two best scorers in Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Cal’s Allen Crabbe do battle. But as I wrote, I’m curious to see if Cal improves their rebounding – a glaring weakness in their last two games. As great as their backcourt of Crabbe and Justin Cobbs are, this will be a game won with defense and post play. My Prediction? Cal wins but McDermott and Crabbe both put up at least 25 in a dazzling offensive showcase.

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