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California Game Preview & How to Watch

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The Huskies return home after a 3-game road trip to start Pac-12 play

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California Chris Brown-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch (and bet)

Date: Wednesday, 1/12/22

Tip-Off Time: 7:00 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Streaming: Pac-12.com/live

Radio: Huskies Gameday App

Location: Seattle, Washington

DraftKings Betting Line: Washington Huskies -1.5

California Golden Bears 2021-22 Statistics:

Record: 9-7 (2-3)

Points For per Game: 65.7 ppg (268th)

Points Against per Game: 62.5 ppg (34th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 103.6 (172nd)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.4 (51st)

Strength of Schedule: 103rd

California Key Players:

G- Joel Brown, Jr. 6’3, 192: 5.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.4 apg, 42.3% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 40.6% FT

We’re on year 3 of the Joel Brown point guard experiment and he has shown virtually no growth as a player in that time. He hates to shoot the ball, isn’t all that efficient when he does, and has about a 1.5:1 assist to turnover ratio. His defense is above average at least and he’ll likely get the Terrell Brown Jr. matchup.

G- Jordan Shepherd, Sr. 6’4, 190: 14.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 37.0% FG, 27.8% 3pt, 78.9% FT

It’s not quite the same as Brown for UW but Shepherd has come in from Charlotte (and Oklahoma before that) and become the unquestioned lead guard for Cal and is putting up a career high in points per game. Just like Brown he’s not a great 3-pt shooter although he unlike Brown he puts up 4+ attempts per game. Shepherd’s saving grace is that he isn’t turnover prone and is quite good and driving to the hoop and getting fouled.

G- Jalen Celestine, So. 6’7. 220: 5.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.9 apg, 45.2% FG, 37.5% 3pt, 100.0% FT

Celestine is pretty much what you want in a 5th option role player. He doesn’t take a lot of shots but when he does shoot he’s fairly efficient. He can knock down an open shot from the perimeter and also cut to the basket. The rebounding/steal numbers are fine for someone his size but definitely not overwhelming.

G- Grant Anticevich, Sr. 6’9, 230: 11.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 41.0% FG, 35.7% 3pt, 93.8% FT

At this point in year 5 we pretty much know what Anticevich is. He shoots about 35% from the 3-pt line and is more comfortable as a jump shooter than a true post player despite being 6’9. He’s hit a career high in rebounding but he doesn’t really block shots and struggles at times with turnovers. Perhaps the best marker of Anticevich’s consistency is that per KenPom the most similar season to his current one is...his season last year.

C- Andre Kelly, Sr. 6'9, 255: 15.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.6 bpg, 61.8% FG, 72.3% FT

Washington gets to face Kelly right off the heels of Evan Battey and they’re almost identical body types. Kelly is putting up a vintage Noah Dickerson season so far except that he doesn’t get to the foul line nearly as often. Still, he’s a very skilled post scorer and Washington would kill to have someone with his skill set they can just dump the ball to down low. He doesn’t gamble quite as often on defense these days which has helped keep his fouls down and allowed him to play a career high in minutes. He should torch UW down low and wind up with an easy double double.

The Outlook

Cal was the consensus 12th place pick in the league this year and I was surprised when my own prediction system had them 9th and UW last. Well this is why we sometimes listen to computers. After a rough 0-2 start with losses to UC San Diego and UNLV, the Bears have gone 9-5 with 4 losses coming against top-40 teams. The wins haven’t been great but include #66 Fresno St, #84 Santa Clara, and #117 Arizona State.

The big thing for Cal is that they’re a veteran team that has a ton of experience playing together. The trio of Brown, Anticevich, and Kelly have all been starting together for 3 years and know each others’ games inside and out. You would want one of Anticevich and Kelly to be a true rim protector but they’re both good rebounders at 6’9 and complement each other well as one wants to shoot and the other is a post scorer.

In addition to everything else Cal plays at a glacial pace. They are 342nd in tempo on offense which they use to limit possessions and help overcome potential talent disadvantages. Overall Cal’s profile is a team that doesn’t do a lot that stands out but they’ve made their identity keeping other teams from standing out as well.

The Cal defense is ranked 55th at KenPom but they do it with just overall solid play. They’re 5th in defensive rebounding rate so they don’t give opponents second chances since they make no effort to play in transition and keep guys back on the glass. Cal is 51st and 60th respectively in 2pt% and 3pt% on defense despite almost never causing turnovers. They don’t gamble for steals and blocks and instead just try to stay in front of their guy. It’s a simple system but has been effective for them with their length.

Things have been a much bigger struggle on the offensive end. Andre Kelly is capable of backing down his guy and scoring with no other support than a solid entry pass. That’s Cal’s saving grace since they don’t take very many 3-pointers and don’t wrack up very many assists (300th or worse nationally in both categories). As much as possible Cal tries to live in the paint with Kelly and Anticevich and if they can’t get it done there’s not much else they can fall back on.

There are only 4 games left on Washington’s schedule where they are greater than 40% to win the game and this is one of them. I think overall Cal has to be considered a good matchup for the Huskies. They don’t move the ball very well and don’t commit resources to the offensive glass which are big advantages to the Husky defense. On the other end of the floor they generally don’t get out of position but the Huskies don’t usually create enough ball movement to rely on open looks anyways.

If Cole Bajema can keep up his epic hot streak it would be a huge lift for the Huskies. But Terrell Brown Jr. and 2 of Daejon Davis, PJ Fuller, and Jamal Bey are going to have to score somewhat efficiently to give the Huskies a chance against the stingy Bears defense. I’m not expecting a blowout in either direction but if one happens I think it’s more likely the Dawgs are on the bottom. Still, I think this is largely a toss up so I’ll give UW the slight edge.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 64, California Golden Bears- 61