Preview: California vs. Wisconsin

Junior Justin Cobbs is averaging 20 ppg

A challenging stretch for Wisconsin basketball continues, as the Badgers look to shake off a disappointing home performance Wednesday by hosting undefeated California Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.

California (6-0, 0-0 Pac12) at Wisconsin (4-3, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time -Sunday, December 2, 3 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,249)

Television - Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson and Mike Kelley)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt LePay and Mike Lucas)

Series – California leads 5-2 (Wisconsin leads 1-0 in Madison)

First Meeting – Wisconsin won, 66-63, on December 29, 1986 in the Rainbow Classic (Honolulu)

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Junior Guard, 12.3 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Senior Forward, 10.1 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 5.3 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Senior Forward, 6.1 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Senior Forward, 14.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 George Marshall (5-11 Freshman Guard, 6.7 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-7 Freshman Forward, 10.6 ppg)

32 Zak Showalter (6-2 Freshman Guard, 2.0 ppg)

34 Zach Bohannon (6-8 Junior Forward, 1.6 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Sophomore Forward, 3.1 ppg)

California Probable Starters

1 Justin Cobbs (6-3 Junior Guard, 20.0 ppg)

12 Brandon Smith (6-0 Senior Guard, 4.7 ppg)

23 Allen Crabbe (6-6 Junior Guard, 22.0 ppg)

35 Richard Solomon (6-10 Junior Forward, 8.3 ppg)

45 David Kravish (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 5.8 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Tyrone Wallace (6-4 Freshman Guard, 5.3 ppg)

24 Ricky Kreklow (6-6 Sophomore Guard, 6.5 ppg)

34 Robert Thurman(6-10 Senior Forward, 5.3 ppg)

Last Time Out

In a game that featured similar programs, it was a late offensive surge, consistently good defense and junior guard Joe Harris scored a game-high 22 points to lead Virginia to a 60-54 upset over Wisconsin in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge Wednesday.

The loss is noteworthy on a number of aspects for Wisconsin (4-3). It's only the 16th home loss Wisconsin has suffered under Ryan in 12 years, only seven of which have come in nonconference play and just four against unranked foes.

Wisconsin's third loss in six games, however, had an all-too-familiar ring to it. Being out rebounded by 19 at Florida and giving up 13 offensive rebounds in the first-half to Creighton, Virginia grabbed 36 rebounds, including 10 off the double-double from Akil Mitchell, and limited Wisconsin to only 25.

"Those are just toughness plays we just didn't make tonight and have to get better at going forward," said senior forward Jared Berggren. "We just didn't execute as well as we needed to."

Akil Mitchell (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Darion Arkins (seven rebounds) also grabbed as many individual rebounds (18) as the six UW players who were credited with rebounds.

"(They) killed us," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "Those guys ought to get stars like we used to get in kindergarten when we did something right."

Wisconsin only gave up eight offensive rebounds, but all seemed to come at the most worst possible times, like when Harris grabbed his own miss, drew a foul from Mike Bruesewitz and converted a three-point play. Instead of Wisconsin cutting the lead back to signal digits, Virginia led by eight – its largest of the game – with 3:12 remaining.

The Cavaliers' sound defensive principles made Virginia look like Wisconsin in a stained blue jersey. Virginia held Wisconsin to 38.2 percent shooting, didn't give up any fast break points and held the Badgers to five free throws attempts.

Series Notes:

The Badgers are 22-31 all-time vs. members of the Pac-12. UW is 2-1 vs. Pac-12 opponents under Bo Ryan, going 1-1 against Arizona and posting a win over Colorado. UW has not faced a Pac-12 team since beating Arizona in the 2009 Maui Invitational.

Junior guard Justin Cobbs is familiar with Bo Ryan's Wisconsin team. Before transferring to Cal, Cobbs played one season at Big Ten foe Minnesota during the 2009-10 campaign. In his lone meeting with Wisconsin in Minneapolis, Cobbs recorded four points and one assist in 12 minutes in the Gophers' 68-52 win over the Badgers on Feb. 18, 2010. Cobbs played against current Badgers Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz in the contest.

Sophomore Ricky Kreklow's uncle Mike Kreklow played two years at Wisconsin during the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons. As a freshman, he saw action in 24 games, scoring 21 points during the 1979-80 season. As a sophomore, he started 13 of the 26 games he played with 85 points in 1980-81.

Wisconsin Notes

UW is 4-0 when shooting a better FG% than its opponents and 0-3 when the opponent shoots better. The Badgers have won 76 of their last 77 games when owning the better FG percentage, including 7 consecutive such wins. Wisconsin's last loss when shooting a higher FG% was a 67- 66 loss at Iowa (2/23/12).

Eight different players have already posted double-digit scoring games. In fact, four players: Jared Berggren, Ben Brust, Sam Dekker and Ryan Evans have all scored at least 15 points in a game.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin lost a home game to Virginia, an extremely rare occurrence at the Kohl Center. Even with that loss, Wisconsin has only lost a TOTAL of 16 home games in the Bo Ryan era.

In 12 seasons under Ryan, the Badgers are an incredible 169-16 (.914) at the Kohl Center. UW's .914 home winning percentage since 2001-02 ranks 5th in the nation. Only Duke, Kansas and Gonzaga have lost fewer home games than the Badgers since 2001-02.

California Notes:

California looks to start the season 7-0 for the first time in more than five decades. The last time Cal opened the season with at least seven-straight regular-season victories was in 1959. That season, the Pete Newell-led Bears opened the year 9-0 with wins over UC Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Jose State, Colorado twice, No. 4 Michigan State, No. 4 Illinois, No. 3 USC and No. 2 West Virginia. They finished the season as NCAA finalists with a 28-2 overall record.

Five of the Bears' six wins have come by double digits, including two of the last three – an 11-point win over GT and a 20-point victory over Pacific.

Cal was picked third in the preseason media poll, garnering three first-place votes. The Bears were picked behind Arizona and UCLA.

Prediction

We'll make this short, sweet and to the point: Cal has out-rebounded each of its first six opponents with a 41.0 rebounds per game average. The Bears have recorded 40 or more rebounds in four-straight games for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

Cal is one of only two teams in the nation to have two players rank in the top-35 in the country in scoring as Crabbe ranks 11th and Cobbs is 35th through Thursday's Division I action. The pair has combined to score 252 of Cal's 448 points and connected on 85 of the Bears' 159 field goals this season. The duo is shooting a combined .570 (85-of-149) from the floor.

Named to the Preseason Top 50 list for the John Wooden Award for the second straight season, Crabbe is the Pac-12 Conference's leading scorer and ranks 11th in the nation overall entering Friday's games.

Crabbe is one of the Pac-12 conference's top three-point shooters. Through six games of his junior season, he has drained 159 career three-pointers, which ranks sixth on Cal's all-time list. His .403 three-point field percentage is eighth-best in school history. As a sophomore in 2011-12, Crabbe recorded 62 three-pointers, which ranked as the seventh-most in a season in school history.

It doesn't take much to see this is not a good matchup for Wisconsin, at least not at this point in the season. Wisconsin's rebounding has been porous and I simply don't see the Badgers winning this game with the effort it has produced. I don't think I have ever picked against UW at home, but I am now. Cal by 8.

Worgull's Record: 5-2

Points off Prediction: 73 (10.4 per game)

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