January 29, 2012; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears guard Allen Crabbe (23) controls the ball against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half at Haas Pavilion. The California Golden Bears defeated Stanford Cardinal 69-59. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Oregon Ducks and California Basketball

At 7:30 PM PT at the Haas Pavilion, the Oregon Ducks will have a difficult road matchup against the best team in the Pac-12; the California Golden Bears. The Mike Montgomery-led squad averages 1.09 points per possession, but the most impressive thing is their 22nd best .91 points per possession allowed. They are a top 20 team according to Sports Reference’s SRS, and KenPom also has them rated in the top 25 in terms of efficiency. Even though the Golden Bears play in the Pac-12, they are still a top 25 team; even if the official rankings don’t reflect this.

Winning on the road is extremely difficult in college basketball, but that gets even more daunting when playing against a team that is 20-6 and is clearly the best team in the conference. The Golden Bears are the only team in the Pac-12 without a glaring weakness.

Allen Crabbe is arguably the best player in the conference and has been responsible for 4.7 wins and has a 22.2 PER to lead the team. Crabbe is also a tough defensive player to match up against, as he holds down opponents to just .93 points per play. He leads the Pac-12 in win shares and will be a handful for the Ducks to try and stop. Not to mention, he can handle his duties on defense as well.

The other two players in the Golden Bears big three stack up nicely, because Justin Cobbs and Jorge Gutierrez both have PERs above 20 (20.9 each). Cobbs is the more efficient shooter and, thus, has been worth more wins. However, Gutierrez is a stifling defensive player who allows just .90 points per possession and is the team’s second best defensive player. Gutierrez, in fact, is fourth in the conference in points per play allowed. In terms of efficiency, nobody on the Golden Bears is better both offensively and defensively.

The best player on California in terms of defensive win shares, however, is the ever-present interior threat David Kravish. His 16.2 PER reflects his efficient (60.1 TS%) but unspectacular (5.9 points per game with a 12.7% usage rate) offensively. He is third in the conference with 2.3 win shares on defense and averages 1.1 blocks per game with 5.5 rebounds per game.

The Oregon Ducks are led by their big three of Devoe Joseph, E.J. Singler, and the sharp-shooting Garrett Sim. Singler won player of the week honors last week for his crucial performances against both of the teams in Washington. Joseph, meanwhile, has been the team’s best player since joining on a transfer and has a 20.7 PER. However, Singler’s performance last week boosted him to a 20.8 PER and is now in the team lead for PER.

The Ducks have quite a bit of depth beyond those three, including lock-down defender Tony Woods (for them, at least) who has a 17.3 PER. The rising Carlos Emory is up to an above-average 15.5 PER and provides a spark off the bench, along with solid rebounder Olu Ashaolu. The 15.9 PER player needs to work on his free throw shooting, however, but don’t blame him for the loss against Colorado.

It’s always tough to pick against the Oregon Ducks, especially when one is a fan of him and because they just find ways to win. However, it is easy to be skeptical over their chances of victory tonight against a superior opponent while also playing on the road. Cal wins this game 72-65, and the more talented and more efficient team shows it in front of their home fans.

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Tags: Allen Crabbe Basketball California Golden Bears Carlos Emory Colorado Buffaloes David Kravish Devoe Joseph E.J. Singler Garrett Sim Jorge Gutierrez Justin Cobbs Olu Ashaolu Tony Woods Washington Huskies Washington State Cougars

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