Returning to Nick's breakdown of the game at California Golden Blogs, Cal could pose a rather familiar test to the Washington Huskies.
Roll On: Scouting The Washington Huskies - California Golden Blogs
Perhaps the critical matchup? Cal's nearly-best-in-the-nation defensive rebounding vs. Washington's aggression on the offensive glass. If Cal can limit Washington's second chance points like they typically do they will probably have a puncher's chance. But if Washington successfully pulls down offensive boards it could be an ugly game. My hope is that these season-long stats aren't fully representative of Cal's improved play since the transfer of Gary Franklin . . . but we'll see.
However, UW's apparent offensive rebounding prowess needs to come with a caveat.
Key statistical battleground: offensive rebounding
At a recent media session, UW coach Lorenzo Romar noted that their rebounding numbers are inflated because of a few strong non-conference games against weaker opponents. So while their numbers look impressive on the surface, Cal's outstanding defensive rebounding could have a huge impact on this game - while UW is getting 40.2 percent of the available offensive rebounds this season, Cal is only allowing opponents to get 24.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds.
Something has to give and that battle on the boards, if nothing else, will be a test of how much UW has really worked on something that was perceived as their biggest vulnerability even as far back as exhibition play.
Cal players to watch
Markuri Sanders-Frison, C (6-foot-7, 275 pounds, Jr.)
If rebounding ends up being a defining feature of this game, then Sanders-Frison figures to play a large role in that. Frison has grabbed about 26 percent of the defensive rebounds available to him this season, which ranks him first in the conference in defensive rebounding percentage and seventh in the nation. In addition, he is Cal's most efficient scorer. However, Cal isn't exactly one dimensional in terms of rebounding - 6-foot-10 freshman Richard Soloman also hits the boards hard as does Allen Crabbe, who ranks 15th in the conference in defensive rebounding percentage.
The Huskies like to pressure and often times when they turn games around in the second half, it starts with their defense. Cal tends to turn the ball over more often than their opponents, but UW forces opponents into turnovers quite a bit more often than they turn the ball over. UW has been at its most dangerous this season when they secure the ball from rebounds or turnovers and fly back up the court for transition points.
Even if Cal establishes a rebounding advantage, they'll have take care of the ball to pull off an upset and send UW home with a second consecutive loss.