California Golden Bears (6-3 4-4 ATS) vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (10-0 4-3 ATS) Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS 9 PM EST Tuesday, December 22, 2009 on ESPN
by Jason Green at Predictem.com
Point Spread: Golden Bears +13.5 / Jayhawks -13.5
Tonight the top-ranked and undefeated Kansas Jayhawks host the California Golden Bears. The Jayhawks have beat their opponents this season by an average of over 30 points per game and are in the top 5 in the nation in FG% (51.3%) and opponents’ FG% (34.5%), but they have yet to play a ranked team.
The Golden Bears have fallen out of the top-25 with 3 losses and one of the main reasons is their 3-pt shooting. Last season they were the best 3-pt shooting team in the nation and this season they are shooting a legit 38.1% from downtown, but that is down from 42.7% from last season. They will have to shoot the rock from downtown tonight or they will be in trouble. Cal’s 3 losses have come to the solid teams of Ohio State, New Mexico, and Syracuse so they will not be intimidated in this game.
The Golden Bears have had a couple of weeks to get ready for this big game, as they have not played since December 9th.
This season Kansas is 8-0 at home and Cal is 1-1 in away games.
Tonight the Bears will have to figure out a way to score on a Kansas’ D that is only allowing an average of 58.3 ppg. They will also have to play solid defense against a stacked Jayhawks team that has many scoring options and has a few guys that will be playing in the NBA soon.
In their last game the Jayhawks beat Michigan 75-64 on Sunday. Kansas played great defense in the game, especially in the 2nd half, holding Michigan to only 24/67 from the floor for a paltry FG% of 35.8% and a 3-pt FG% of only 17.9%. The Jayhawks played a little bit of a sloppy game on offense, as even though they shot over 52% from the field they committed 14 turnovers and Player of the Year candidate Cole Aldrich only had 5 points on 0-3 shooting even though he did grab 11 boards. The Jayhawks were favored by 19.5 points so they did not cover the spread.
Cal had no problem winning their last game, as they crushed Pacific 79-54 back on December 9th. Cal dominated both halves of that game out-scoring Pacific by 14 points in the 1st half and 11 points in the 2nd half. The Bears played a great all around game, as they shot over 52% from the floor and on defense held Pacific to only 33.3% shooting. The Bears also shot lights out from downtown hitting on 46.7% from 3-pt land. The Bears easily covered the 6.5-point spread and the posted total of 134 was not reached.
Bears C Max Zhang (4.5 ppg 3.8 rpg) is 7’3″ and has started the last 4 games, but he will have trouble containing Cole Aldrich (11.3 ppg 9.7 rpg), as the All American candidate will have a good game scoring and on the boards.
The Bears are led by their guards Jerome Randle (19.6 ppg) and Patrick Christopher (15.6 ppg), but they will struggle tonight in their match up with the Kansas backcourt of Xavier Henry (17.7 ppg) and Sherron Collins (13.9 ppg). Collins is quick enough to keep up with Randle and Henry is a tall guard like Christopher so the backcourt match up favors the Jayhawks.
Look for Henry and Collins to keep the Bears’ guards from having a big scoring game.
The Morris twins of F Marcus (11.1 ppg) and Markieff Morris (8.1 ppg) are solid on defense and they will keep the Bears’ forwards of Theo Robertson (14.7 ppg) and Jamal Boykin (12.4 ppg) from scoring many buckets in the lane.
Look for the Bears to try to run a fast paced offense and move the ball around to get open 3-pt looks, but they will not be successful against Kansas and their ultra-athletic team.
The Jayhawks will win the battle of the glass tonight, which will give them many 2nd chance opportunities.
Jason’s Pick: Sure the Bears are picked to win the Pac 10 this season, but they simply do not have the players to match up with the Jayhawks. Look for the Bears to struggle shooting and playing defense on Kansas, as the Jayhawks will easily win this game and cover the 13.5-point spread.