When: 2:00 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Network
I'm not going to spend a ton of time previewing Arizona, who have struggled mightily this season. At 4-12 (0-5) they are by far the worst team in the conference, with the computer numbers (RPI 230) to match. Remember when Cal beat Wake Forest by 23 at a neutral site? Arizona lost to them at home by 12. Arizona's best win is a home win over 6-10 Texas Tech. They don't have a single win over a team in the RPI top 200.
OK, so Arizona is pretty bad. BUT. It's worth noting that they have lost every single Pac-12 game not against Stanford by single digits. So, perhaps they have improved after a truly depressing non-conference stretch. That doesn't change the fact that this is a team Cal should beat, and easily.
Why is Arizona so bad? Well, they were already bad last year, but they had Davellyn Whyte and her 17 points/game. But Whyte graduated and has been a consistent bench performer in the WNBA. The offense has taken a step back and the defense hasn't been much better than last year's awful edition. Of course, there's probably a bigger reason:
Niya Butts is in her 6th year as Arizona's head coach. Here is the RPI progression over the last four years: 26, 156, 171, 230. If you prefer, here's the WBBState computer ranking progression: 79, 176, 223, 291. Most coaches are supposed to have improved performances when their own recruiting classes take over. Once Butts lost Ify Ibekwe, her teams collapsed, and it's gotten worse every year.
A consistent issue for Arizona has been a complete lack of size and inside presence. Arizona has one player at 6'2'', and a few at 6'1''. No true centers, no above average rebounders. The Wildcats are 301st in the nation in rebounding percentage despite a non-conference schedule that can be charitably described as mediocre.
Man, I just spent way too many words on Arizona.
Our Computer Overlords predict
Sgarin Predictor: Cal by 11.62
Keys to the game
Play good, solid Cal basketball.