TV Schedule: Thursday, Nov. 26, 11:59 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Arena: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Line: California (-4)
One of the dark horse favorites in college basketball, the No. 14 California Golden Bears have entered the 2015-16 season with four straight wins over weak opposition. Cal does not face a ranked team until mid-December in the Virginia Cavaliers, meaning that their Thanksgiving night matchup with the San Diego State Aztecs could be the toughest test they face until then.
San Diego State kept it close with the Utah Utes earlier in the season, but dropped a game to Arkansas-Little Rock at home. This team boasts tons of talent, as always, but has yet to find their scoring rhythm. Only two players, Jeremy Hemsley and Dakarai Allen, average more than 10 points per game; when one of those players has an off night, SDSU struggles.
California needs a statement win over a quality team in order to move up in the top 25 rankings, because beating weak opponents now is not going to look good if they lose to Virginia or the Davidson Wildcats further down the road. Likewise, a win over the Golden Bears would be massive for the Aztecs’ 2016 NCAA tournament hopes.
While the Golden Bears can afford a slip up on Thursday, it’s highly unlikely that will happen. This team’s offense is starting to find its stride, and Tyrone Wallace and Co. should be able to break through San Diego State’s tough defense. The Aztecs will compete in the Mountain West Conference, but California is a class above. We’ll see that on Thanksgiving night as the Golden Bears win easily.
Prediction: California 70, San Diego State 62