Badgers Basketball Preview: Cal Golden Bears edition

The Matchup: No. 6 Wisconsin (10-1) at Cal (9-1)
When: Monday, Dec. 22; 8pm CT
Where: Berkley, CA; Haas Pavilion
Radio: Badger Radio Network
Last Meeting: UW won 81-56 (12/2/12) in Madison
All-Time Series: Cal leads 5-3

Projected Starting Lineups:

Cal Golden Bears:
G Jordan Matthews — So. 6-3, 205 (13.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
G Tyrone Wallace — Jr. 6-5, 200 (19.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg)
G Sam Singer — So. 6-4, 204 (4.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
F Christian Behrens — Jr. 6-8 226 (8.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
F David Kravish — Sr. 6-10, 240 (10.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

Wisconsin Badgers
G Traevon Jackson – Sr. 6-3 207 (9.7 ppg, 2.8 apg)
G Josh Gasser – Sr. 6-4 192 (7.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
F Sam Dekker – Jr. 6-9 230 (11.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes – So. 6-8 235 (11.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky – Sr. 7-0 242 (16.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg)

Key Matchup: Sam Dekker vs. Tyrone Wallace 

Photo courtesy Kevin Jairaj: USA Today Sports

Photo courtesy Kevin Jairaj: USA Today Sports

The Badgers have a height advantage in a big way…I know, shocking, right? That said, it means there are one or two potential mismatches in the one-on-one battles that will happen as the Badgers play man defense. Looking at this matchup, that means we could see Wisconsin’s 6-9 wing (Sam Dekker) taking on a 6-5 point-wing for Cal (Tyrone Wallace).

Yes, Wallace is a 6-5 player who allegedly plays the point for the Golden Bears. If so, he’s the strangest point guard I’ve ever seen. Wallace leads Cal in points, rebounds and assists, but you can bet you aren’t going to see much of Traevon Jackson on him, given the height disadvantage and the slashing ability of Wallace. Don’t be surprised to see Dekker on him.

It will be an intriguing matchup because Dekker has gotten much better on the defensive end of the court, but is still nursing that tender ankle. Chances are he’s close to 100 percent than he will be ever again this season thanks to having last week off. That said, Dekker has become a good defender on the perimeter and he’s becoming someone that you don’t want to drive on. We saw that last game against Nicholls, when he had two blocks.

Don’t sleep on the offensive side of Dekker’s game either, as he’s scored 17 points in back-to-back games, and appears to have the explosiveness his game is predicated on back. It may be equally important for Dekker to score on the level of Wallace, as it will be for him to make stops on the defensive end.

Prediction: Wisconsin 74, Cal 63

Don’t sleep on this game, Cal has the ability to play some really good basketball. The Golden Bears’ only loss this season was to No. 10 Texas, after beating No. 23 Syracuse badly in the 2K Classic. Additionally there are three guys who can score in Matthews, Wallace and Kravish. That can be a dangerous combination, yet the question is are those numbers inflated by a schedule that ranks 288th according to KenPom.com’s strength of schedule rankings.

However, the Badgers are on a different level than Cal appears to be right now and I would expect them to see out a challenge for the first half of the game and clamp down in the second half.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com