You could argue the California Golden Bears have been consistently inconsistent, but you also could make a point that they’re just not beating the teams that they need to. They’ve done well against the bottom feeders, but they’ve crumbled in the clutch; a problem that will need fixing in the final stretch of the regular season.
In November, the Golden Bears cracked the AP-Top 25 with a number 25 seed rank, however, since then they’ve suffered gut-wrenching losses to Seton Hall, Virginia and Arizona. Each loss was by no more than five points, while UCLA and Oregon have beaten the Bears by double digits since then.
In the coming weeks they face unranked Stanford, Utah, Colorado and Arizona State before their February 11th rematch with No. 7 Arizona. The team needs to take these games and get into a rhythm through this stretch. With the Tournament coming soon, the Bears sit at a meager +50,000 odds (500 to 1) at TopBet, which would mean they’re almost on the outside looking in. So, in other words, these next few weeks are make or break games for Cal.
They’re on the right path. At 11-2, they currently have the third best home record in the conference and their next three are in Berkeley before they head to Tempe, AZ. They’ll also only face two ranked squads in their final 11 games. The big key for the Bears, is their big man – Ivan Rabb.
The 6’11 hometown sophomore has been crucial to the team’s success thus far and his health is paramount should they want to continue their tournament trek. Rabb is currently averaging 15.1 PPG - 12th best in the conference, along with Pac-12 best 10.1 rebounds per game.
This is all fine and good but there is little help behind him. The 7’0 center Kingsley Okoroh doesn’t see as many minutes, doesn’t put up nearly as many points and also averages almost five less boards a game – not the best supporting character. In fact, Rabb has nearly 60 more total boards than anybody else on the team.
It will come down to how far Rabb and Charlie Moore, the Golden Bears’ standout freshman guard, can take them. A championship, final four or elite eight appearance may be reaching. On their best night though, the Golden Bears do look like a team that could push for the sweet sixteen berth.
Will that actually happen, is another question entirely. It’s a question that we’ll have the answer to sooner rather than later.