Can the Arizona Wildcats make it a 4-0 start to begin Pac-12 play?
We shall find out late Saturday night when they take on the lowly California Golden Bears at 8:30 p.m. MST in Berkeley.
KenPom gives the Wildcats (12-4, 3-0) a 75 percent chance of beating the Bears (5-10, 0-3) with a projected score of 76-68.
Here is how we think the game will play out. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 81-69
California is either the worst team in the Pac-12 or the second-worst, depending on what happens when it plays Washington State later this year. With that being said, Arizona losing at Berkeley would be an abject disaster and eliminate any momentum the Wildcats have created in starting 3-0 for the third time since 2013-14.
Good thing that won’t happen, unless those foul issues that occurred aren’t accompanied by heroic bench efforts from the likes of Ira Lee and others. Cal has allowed more than half its opponents to shoot over 50 percent, while not shooting particularly well itself, and has been outrebounded in 12 of 15 games. This has all the makings of a quick-and-easy one, but expect a few hiccups along the way before Arizona still ends up comfortably ahead at the final buzzer.
Zant Reyez— Arizona wins 79-72
Weird things always seem to happen when Arizona plays Cal, but the ‘Cats get the Bay Area sweep and stay perfect in the Pac-12.
Christopher Boan — Arizona wins 74-60
This game will be unbearably bad (see what I did there?), because Cal is quite possibly the worst Power Five team in the land (yes, even worse than Rutgers). I have no clue how Wyking Jones has a job, or how Cal hired him without ever interviewing Nevada coach Eric Musselman, yet here we are.
Arizona should win this one by 30 points, but won’t, because basketball is a dumb sport and the Pac-12 is a figurative dumpster fire. I have a greater fascination in whether the Osos from Berkeley will can Jones and bring in a competent coach than in watching this game, which tells you all you need to know. (Also, it tips off at 8:30 p.m., so hard pass).
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 82-68
Cal has given up 80 or more points in six straight games, and I see that streak continuing Saturday. There is no reason this game should be close and, frankly, it’s a must-win for the Wildcats since a loss to such a terrible team would be devastating.
The only way I see Cal winning — or even staying competitive — is if it has a hot shooting night since their defense, one of the worst units in the country, won’t get it done. In fairness, the Bears do have some dangerous shooters and have made 37 percent of their 3s this year. Freshman guard Matt Bradley is fourth in the entire country in 3-point percentage (.554) and Darius McNeill is shooting 37 percent from 3 at an extremely high volume.
Cal also needs point guard Paris Austin, its leading scorer and assister, to play and play well. The Boise State transfer has missed the last two games with an ankle sprain.