By Charles Jay
The California Golden Bears look like they might be headed to the NCAA Tournament, and the last thing they need is to slip when they are playing against a lesser team. But when it comes to the “Big Game,” anything can happen. As such, the Stanford Cardinal may stand as a rather live underdog as these teams square off at 10 PM ET on Friday night in a game that is televised by Fox Sports 1 from Palo Alto. BetAnySports customers will have the opportunity, even after the game gets underway, to place wagers in real time through the mechanism known as Live Betting Ultra.
California comes into this game with a record of 18-7, but they have not been all that successful against the number, posting an 11-14 ATS mark. They been playing well, winning seven of their last nine games, and one thing you can say about them is that they have been extremely competitive against much better teams, losing by three points to Seton Hall, four points to Virginia and five points to Arizona, on two different occasions. Yes, they got blown out by Oregon, and their most notable victories have come against Utah and USC, which isn’t necessarily enough to get you at-large consideration. But they’ve got time to put together three or four more victories so they can impress the Selection Committee.
In the college basketball odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, California is laying points as the road team:
California Golden Bears -3.5
Stanford Cardinal +3.5
Over 129 points -110
Under 129 points -110
When you talk about California, you are talking primarily about defense. This is one of the top stop units in the Pac 12, allowing 39% shooting on overall basis. Their numbers are solid, whether the opponent is shooting inside the arc (42.5%) or outside of it (31.2%). So Stanford, which is not the most explosive team in the world (43% overall shooting), will have its work cut out for it. But the Cardinal may have the best player on the floor in Reid Travis, who averages 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest. He was just coming back from a shoulder injury the last time these two teams played, which wound up a 66-55 victory for Cal.
The Bears will count on its inside-outside combination which includes Ivan Rabb, the 6-11 center who had 25 points and 13 rebounds in that previous encounter, along with Grant Mullins, a 6-3 guard who shoots 42.4% from beyond the three-point line. BetAnySports customers know that California is a team that likes to play a deliberate game, so one of their primary objectives will be to keep Stanford from getting out on the break. If they can get some offensive rebounds, that would definitely help, and there is no question that the Bears are one of the more formidable teams on the defensive boards, pulling down 75.3% of all possible caroms.
Stanford is 12-13 straight-up and 11-13 ATS, and, after losing five of their last six games, they can only hope that they can put together a late surge that might land them in the NIT. Anything is possible, and, in fact, is MORE possible with Travis in the lineup.
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