boomtho: I've had this one circled for a while - December 22nd at Virginia. I think this will be a fantastic test for our young team. Virginia will slow the game (a lot), play tenacious defense, execute well on offense, and force the Bears to do the same. I fully expect to lose this game - but I think the learnings either will way will be super valuable.
Nik Jam: San Diego State and Virginia are our toughest matchups, and the latter is on the road. It will be a big test for sure. I like that we get tested early by playing the Aztecs. The thing is, neither loss will be that big a deal as far as tourney resume is concerned.
As far as home games are concerned, I would be very disappointed if we don't win the whole slate. The one that worries me is St. Mary's because they will bring road fans from right next door (If this game doesn't sell out, and maybe it already has, it will be a major shame) and maybe have a chip on their shoulder for all the times Cal has declined to include them on their schedules, especially when both teams were really equal around 2009-2010. I don't know much about this incarnation of the Gaels and whether they're more likely a NCAA team or looking at another NIT bid, though. My apologies to their fans for my ignorance.
You can really replace St. Mary's with Davidson in the entire above paragraph, minus the "road fans from next door" part. Hopefully I won't have to choose between the Davidson game and Cal Football's bowl game.
Trace Travers: Virginia. The Tony Bennett slowdown will always worry me, and it plays out to some of the most boring games you can get. Cal struggled against Bennett when he was at Wazzu, and I'd continue to be concerned.
Ruey Yen: I got to agree with boomtho. I don't know if "worry" is the correct sentiment here (since I would be fine with a loss) but the UVA game is clearly our biggest test (on paper) on the entire schedule. I am looking forward to see this game in person and the battle of tempo control.
As for the rest of the non-conference schedule, I think we are capable of winning them all. It doesn't mean that I will wager money that we will achieve that (odds of us having an off game and get upset is obviously non-negligible), but I am so hyped up on this team that I am not worried.
Nick Kranz: I'll give you the game that has the biggest stakes for me, in terms of satisfaction I'd get from a win and frustration I'd feel for a loss: San Diego State.
For the last few years the Aztecs have had a reasonable claim to the title of 'best team in California,' and Cal's loss to SDSU in 2012 still sticks in my craw. Plus, beating the Aztecs would be a good resume win during a non-conference schedule that isn't full of opportunities to impress. A win would likely set up a fun game against West Virginia.