College Basketball Odds, Picks and Predictions for Arizona vs. Cal (Sunday, Jan. 23)
Rebecca Noble/Getty Images. Pictured: Bennedict Mathurin.
Arizona vs. Cal Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Arizona Wildcats have the No. 1 men’s basketball team in the country per Friday’s NET rankings. Arizona was second last week, but it jumped Gonzaga after defeating Stanford on Thursday 85-57.
The Wildcats are 15-1 this season and have ran through their first five Pac-12 matchups, winning each game by an average of 21.6 points. That is the best overall record through 16 games Arizona has put together since the 2013-14 season when it reached the Elite Eight.
Its perfect Pac-12 record will be put to the test on Sunday when it takes on the Cal Golden Bears. Cal is 9-9 overall on the season and 2-5 in conference play. However, they have been great at home where they are 9-3 ATS.
Arizona will be without Azoulas Tubelis, who it lost in its win over Stanford. Tubelis suffered a sprained ankle and will be out an undetermined amount of time.
It was encouraging to see Arizona still have success without Tubelis. Center Christian Koloko got into foul trouble in the game against Stanford, but Oumar Ballo was able to step up for the Wildcats, recording a career-high 21 points. At times Arizona even switched to five perimeter players, showing off just how deep this team is.
And while Arizona will be without Tubelis, Cal will welcome back Joel Brown, who played one minute as the Golden Bears were swept last week at the Washington schools due to being in COVID-19 protocols.
Arizona has yet to face any of the Pac-12’s other top contenders such as UCLA, USC or Oregon. Can it get past a struggling Cal team and stay perfect on the season?
The Wildcats are led by Bennedict Mathurin, who is averaging 17.7 points per game. Tubelis is contributing 15.1 points, while Koloko and Kerr Kriisa are also scoring in double digits, at 12.8 and 11.4, respectively.
Arizona has been outstanding converting shots from the floor this season, currently ranked third in overall shooting percentage at 50.2%.
The Arizona offense should keep the ball fairly secure here against the California defense. Arizona isn’t the sloppiest team in the world, but it has had some issues with ball security. Its ranking in potential quick points allowed off steals is specifically bad, as the team places 314th in the nation in that category.
The Arizona defense, meanwhile, has been ruthless and relentless. Ranking 47th in defensive scoring, it limits opposing teams to just 63.9 points per game. It also ranks first in opponent average scoring margin at -24.3.
The Wildcats have also been one of the best defensive rebounding units in Division I, averaging 29.1 per contest, second in the country. And they’re similarly outstanding in defensive second-chance conversion percentage, nationally ranked seventh in that category.
They have held opponents to the lowest two-point shooting and lowest shooting efficiency in the nation. If the Wildcats can shut down a Cal offense that already struggles, it could become a blowout quickly.
Cal is averaging 56.8 points during its four-game skid and 64.6 for the season which ranks 291st nationally. The Golden Bears are one of the slowest-tempo teams in the nation, ranked 334th in adjusted tempo per Kenpom. Arizona, meanwhile, is second in tempo and has the shortest possession length at 14.4 seconds of any team in the country.
The Golden Bears rely on their stout defense, which is holding foes to 40.4 percent shooting from the field, including 29.3 percent from three-point range.
For Cal, Jordan Shepherd at 14.3 points per game and Andre Kelly at 14.2 tops the scoring list. Grant Anticevich averages 11.3 points per game which will give Arizona more room to operate down low if the Wildcats have to go to their smaller lineup.
California has been modest on the offensive boards. And when it comes to turning offensive rebounds into fast points, it is similarly an average unit, rated 132nd in the country in second-chance conversion rate.
On offense the Bears have struggled to shoot really anywhere on the court, ranking outside the top 150 in both two- and three-point shots.
And while the Golden Bears have been one of the better teams at limiting shots, they do not create turnovers. The Cal defense ranks outside the top 300 in turnover percentage, something it would need to do if it wants to stop Arizona.
Arizona vs. Cal Betting Pick
I don’t see anyway this Cal team can put a stop to Arizona, even if it is without Azoulas Tubelis,
I got Arizona at -13.5 and would take them as high as a 15-point favorite.