Showdown! OSU Men's basketball preview vs. California

For those who love lots of shooting and scoring, the first matchup this season between OSU and Cal was the game you had to watch. Both teams shot over 55% from the floor and 40% from 3, but it was the Beavers who had the really hot hand that allowed them to get the win over the experienced Bears. Fast forward to the tail end of the season, with Cal still riding high and the Beavers still looking to make ground in the Pac. Can the Beavs do the unthinkable: Sweeping the Bears? A brief overview of Cal after the jump.

Offensively, Cal is a well-oiled machine. They are the most efficient team in the league, averaging 1.1 points per possession and shooting 50% from the floor. The other parts of their offense though drags the offense down a bit. They don't get to the line as well as most Pac 12 teams (though they do convert from the line), and their 32% accuracy from downtown is average and uninspiring. To the Bears' credit, they don't take a lot of those 3 balls anyway, preferring instead to move the ball around and get a better shot.

A big reason why Cal managed to stay afloat in conference while the Beavers are still treading water is their difference in defensive efficiency. Conference opponents shoot 43% from the floor but give up a tad bit too much from the 3, where opponents drill a third of their attempts. Another issue is that they foul a lot as well, resulting in numerous trips to the line. As a rebounding team the Bears are actually pretty subpar in that area (both offensive and defensive glasses), given their lack of height in the frontcourt and their lack of depth as well outside of a good starting 5.

Here's my assessment for the Cal players. Unfortunately, from my time at the House of Sparky blog, the guys from the Golden Blog admit that their bench is a bit of a mess outside of Brandon Smith, so very little outside of the players we all should know by now who don a Cal uni.

Jorge Guttierez: Senior leader, double digit scorer, majority slasher, 2nd best rebounder, streaky outside shooter, energy dude, FT wizard, distributor.

Allen Crabbe: So-Cal smoothness. 3 ball artillery man, leading double digit scorer in conference, capable slasher, best in conference rebounder on team, best FT shooter

Justin Cobbs: Point guard, capable scorer inside and out, distributor, FT wiz.

Harper Kamp: Smart four man dude, capable interior/mid-range scorer, injury concern, 3 rebounds a game guy at 6-8.

David Kravish: Inside Detterent, strong converter inside.

Brandon Smith: Backup distributor. Scoring liability.

I won't recap as to how OSU beat the Bears because it's simple: OSU was on fire. Assuming that the outburst won't happen again (and I think that's reasonable to believe), the Beavers will have a difficult time against Cal. They are playing away from home and the Bears are a better defensive team. Here are some thoughts going in:

- Cal is thin inside with Kamp and Kravish, with the latter as the only legit shot blocker inside. I hope to see Burton, Brandt and Collier get their touches inside. Points in the paint will be one thing I'll be looking for because on paper, Cal can't match up with the deep OSU frontline. Do you hear me, Nelson, Cunningham and Starks? Give them the ball!

- Not to put my basketball coach hat on, but we were terrible on the boards against Stanford. We were outworked and outhustled by a smaller team. We can't afford to give O. boards to Cal, especially considering their efficiency on offense.

- Can we start defending? Our losses have 1 common denominator: We couldn't stop anybody. We can't put so much pressure on our offense to score. If it means that we have to start backing off of players to ensure that we are in front of them and make sure that the lanes are plugged, so be it.

- X-factor(s): Related to the first point, Joe Burton and Angus Brandt needs to at least have 8-12 points. Considering Cal's lack of depth inside that's a realistic goal.

Well, that's all the time I have for previewing Cal. Good luck to OSU! Go Beavers!

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