How to Watch (and bet)
Date: Saturday, 1/13/23
Tip-Off Time: 3:00 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Location: Seattle, Washington
DraftKings Betting Line: Washington Huskies -9
California Golden Bears 2022-23 Statistics:
Record: 3-14 (2-4)
Points For per Game: 609 (346th)
Points Against per Game: 66.6 (86th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 100.5 (239th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 130.4 (175th)
Strength of Schedule: 44th
California’s Key Players:
G- Dejuan Clayton, Sr. 6’2, 190: 11.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 37.2% FG, 50.5% 3pt, 80.0% FT
The Coppin State/Hartford transfer came back just as leading scorer Devin Askew got hurt and has helped spark Cal’s mini turn around. He’s somehow in his 7th season of college basketball and keyed their upset of Cal with a 6/8 from 3-pt range performance. That’s going to be a mirage long-term as he’s a career 30% shooter from deep and is only shooting 24% on 2’s to compensate. He could have a big night against UW but Clayton’s numbers probably aren’t sustainable.
G- Joel Brown, Sr. 6’3, 192: 6.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.0 apg, 43.9% FG, 22.7% 3pt, 53.6% FT
Brown is kind of the Jamal Bey of Cal except there are no other options for Cal given all the injuries they’ve had at the guard spot. He has career 42/30/48 shooting splits as a point guard with a 2.7/1.7 assist to turnover ratio. Fortunately for Cal he has realized he’s not a great shooter and drives the ball much more frequently and can still be a pest on defense. Overall though he prefers to be the 5th scoring option on offense.
F- Grant Newell, Fr. 6’8, 220: 7.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 40.4% FG, 30.3% 3pt, 72.7% FT
For the 301st ranked player in the 2022 class it has been a solid true freshman campaign so far especially considering the talent surrounding Newell. He has started every game but 2 and his numbers across the board are pretty much mediocre to average for a normal starting SF except maybe his defensive rebounding. Shoulder shrug.
F- Kuany Kuany, Sr. 6’9, 200: 9.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 41.4% FG, 34.0% 3pt, 84.1% FT
It has been a breakout season for Kuany so far as he has hit career highs in efficiency. During conference play he’s 6th in free throw rate while making over 80% of his FTs and also making 44% of his 3-pointers. He put up a career high 18 points last week in the win over Stanford.
C- Lars Thiemann, Sr. 7’1, 260: 11.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 54.1% FG, 72.7% FT
Thiemann has had to be the glue holding this team together and he’s not quite equipped for that role. He’s a good offensive rebounder and has adequate moves in the post but he’s not exactly an all-conference option. His rim protection in particular is underwhelming for someone over 7-feet as it is in line with Nate Roberts totals.
Coming off a 5-game losing streak it was probably easy for Coach Hopkins to motivate the Huskies despite playing a team that’s winless in conference. It’ll be a little more difficult to keep up the momentum and the good vibes once the players see the 3-14 record next to Cal’s name.
It has been an abysmal year 4 under Mark Fox as Cal set a record for a major conference team losing 12 straight to start the season including 5 games to sub-150 teams. They’ve started to turn it around though and are 3-2 in their last 5 contests now including 22-point wins over Stanford and UT Arlington. All of their wins though have come at home it should be noted.
This was a bad roster from the get go but injuries certainly haven’t helped things. The expected starting guard duo was Kentucky transfer Devin Askew and Jalen Celestine with DeJuan Clayton transferring to help bolster depth. Instead, Celestine still hasn’t played and Clayton appeared 4 games ago just about exactly when Devin Askew went down with an injury. There’s only been one game where more than one of the trio has been available and it’s not expected that Askew or Celestine are back tonight.
It may have been a little bit of addition by subtraction when Askew exited the lineup. He has ranked 7th in the country taking 35% of the shots when in the game and doing so on 31% 3-pt shooting and a below average offensive rating. It’s hard to blame him though because there’s not a clear alternative. Cal ranks 298th in 3-pt percentage and that’s despite them making a ridiculous 16/22 3’s against Stanford last week. It had to be one of the ultimate out of body experiences in college basketball history.
That’s not the only flaw in the offense. Cal plays at almost literally the slowest pace in the country which actually isn’t a bad strategy for a team playing at a massive talent disadvantage. They also rank 356th in non-steal turnover rate so there’s a lot of miscommunications leading to throws out of bounds and guys accidentally stepping out. The one good thing about the offense is they both get to the line a lot and make free throws at a high rate so there’s a path to victory there if they get Meah in early foul trouble.
On defense it helps that Cal is the 5th tallest team in the country just ahead of USC and Stanford. The length has seemingly helped them guard the 3-point line as opponents are only shooting 31% from deep against the Bears. Otherwise though there isn’t a strength in their profile and they’re one of the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers. If the Huskies play at all like they did on Thursday night then they should have no problem scoring.
Washington could be vastly better than Cal and the final score would be closer than the UW-Stanford one simply because there aren’t going to be very many possessions. Unless the Huskies get a bunch of pick-six steals leading to run out dunks expect a low scoring game. Because of that and because UW never seems to play 2 good games in a row I’m going to pick the Bears to cover. But realistically from the basis of talent differential this should be a double-digit Husky win and I’ll be happy to look foolish if it happens.
Max’s Record this Year: 14-4 Straight Up, 10-7-1 Against The Spread
Washington Huskies- 64, California Golden Bears- 56