MBB Game 16 Preview and Open Thread: California Golden Bears at Oregon Ducks

California Golden Bears (12-4, 2-1) at Oregon Ducks (11-4, 2-1)
4:30 PT, Matthew Knight Arena
TV: FSN (National)
KenPom Ratings: Cal 23, Oregon 102
Pomeroy Prediction: Cal 71-66

Oregon looks to build on its win against Stanford by taking on the Golden Bears tonight at Matthew Knight Arena. Cal has been somewhat of an enigma this season. They're the most talented team in the Pac--with Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs, and Harper Kamp, they have the talent to be among the nations elite. The advanced statistics bear this out, with Cal ranking #27 in the nation in offensive efficiency, and #29 in defensive efficiency.

Yet, sometimes the stats just don't bear the expected results. Cal has been great at home, yet, everytime they have taken the show out on the road, they have experienced defeat, often big. Lost to Mizzou by 39 on a neutral floor. By 17 at UNLV. Lost at San Diego State and Oregon State. To help us preview Cal, LeonPowe of California Golden Blogs has answered some questions for us. We'll have our usual four factors preview and keys to the game after the jump.

With Allen Crabbe, Jorge Gutierrez, and Harper Kamp, Cal is the most talented team in the Pac-12. The efficiency numbers on both offense and defense say that Cal should be elite. Yet, every time they have left Berkeley, they've lost, and most of those games haven't been terribly close. What's the deal?

We've had bad matchup issues against Mizzuori and UNLV - very quick athletic teams which press (Missouri) and teams which can hit the boards with elite athletic rebounders (UNLV) will kill us. Realistically we're a top 20-25 team, and we're a solid offensive and defensive team who plays well together. Bad matchups have killed us on the road so far. OSU included.

Justin Cobbs is a transfer from Minnesota, averaging almost 13 a game. He appears to be an elite shooter, shooting well over 50%, and over 65% from three (17-26). Tell us about his game.

Cobbs is a bigger athletic point guard who can penetrate and is very accurate from deep. I think the sort of point we haven't had under Montgomery - since Randle was the major offense piece of his teams and Brandon Smith isn't the offensive threat that Cobbs is. We're very excited about a Cobbs/Crabbe backcourt for two more years.

Tell us about Cal defensively. What can Oregon expect to see?

Monty really likes man to man. Expect to see Jorge lock down your elite perimeter player. Due to depth and injury issues we have rolled out a 2-3 zone on occasion but it's not our preference. Also very interesting - but we couldn't see it - we apparently rolled out a 1-2-2 full court press last night against OSU but no one knows anything about it, since we didn't see it.

Allen Crabbe is only a sophomore. Is he a potential early-entry kind of guy at some point?

He's got the talent but slightly disappointed that he hasn't grown his game more this year. An elite catch and shooter and scorer he hasn't really developed the individual create his own shot game that a real early entry candidate would have. The critical moment will be the upcoming summer.

I'm very uncertain that the Pac-12 is going to get more than one team into the tourney. How confident are you that Cal will be that team?

I think we'll get two and cal will be one of those. One is a little iffy because the best team doesn't always win the tournament - I'm confident of getting in based on resume, but if it's the PAC 12 tournament for the sole spot - I'll be very worried - depth is an issue for the Bears.

FOUR FACTORS PREVIEW:

eFG%: Cal 54.0 (23), Oregon 51.9 (72)

What really makes Cal so elite is that they rank sixth in the nation at shooting the three (42.8% as a team). Altman can't sit back in a zone against this team or they will make it rain from downtown.

Turnover %: Cal 18.7 (60), Oregon 20.5 (146)

I guess the good news for Oregon is that Cal doesn't really create a whole lot of turnovers, ranking 212th in the country.

Offensive Rebounding %: Cal 33.6 (127), Oregon 29.9 (256)

The thing Oregon has going for it is that they have done a good job on the boards in two of their last three games. However, Cal is also top 20 in the country at not giving up offensive rebounds, so the Ducks will have their work cut out for them.

Free Throw Rate: Oregon 46.2 (18), Cal 35.3 (200)

The one area of the game where Oregon is truly elite, and Cal isn't. Oregon also ranks 25th in opponents' free throw rate, so don't expect Cal to be at the line much. Cal is 6th in the country at not giving up free throws, so Oregon may not get the free points they are accustomed to.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

1. DEFEND THE THREE: As we said before, Cal is elite from distance. Everything has to be contested.

2. GET THE PACE UP: Cal has struggled with uptempo pressing teams. This is what Altman wants to do, though the personnel hasn't always let him do it. The ducks need to try this against Cal, and if they can execute and get easy fast break points, it will help the Ducks immensely.

3. LIMIT TURNOVERS: Oregon has been plagued by turnovers most of the season. Cal doesn't really create many on their own, so the Ducks need to take care of the ball and not help them out.

Given the stretch that Oregon was asked to start with and how they looked early, 3-1 would be a very good start.

GO DUCKS!

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