TV Schedule: Saturday, Jan. 23, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN3
Arena: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Line: Arizona (-3)
Expected to be one of the best teams in the country coming into 2015-16, the season has not gone quite as planned for the California Golden Bears.
With six losses on the season that includes three of their last four in Pac-12 play, the Golden Bears sit two games behind conference leaders Washington Huskies, and one game behind conference favorites Arizona Wildcats. Cuonzo Martin and co. will have a chance to close that gap on Saturday night as Arizona travels to Berkeley to face off with California.
Arizona has only lost three games total this season, but two of those have been to teams from California on the road, the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans. Playing the bulk of their Pac-12 road games early in their conference schedule, the Wildcats are set up to finish the season on a huge win streak, so the Golden Bears will want to try and knock off this top team now instead of March 3 in Tucson.
The Wildcats are averaging 82.4 points per game, good for No. 21 in the country, while Cal averages just 75.5 points per game, good for No. 140 in the country. Both of these teams boast capable defenses, but it is the offense that will decide this game, meaning that Arizona has the clear advantage.
I expect the Golden Bears to be rock solid in February, as all of Martin’s teams seem to be. However, they will lose this one as Arizona gets the better of California on the road.
Prediction: Arizona 82, California 77