On Friday, January 3rd, the California Golden Bears (8-3) host the Washington Huskies (9-3) in a clash between two rival programs that are similar in their aspirations to rise in PAC-12 significance.
The Huskies are coming off an impressive 65 – 56 road victory over Washington State and hope to continue their streak with a statement win in the Bears house.
On paper, the Huskies offense is still average at best, ranking in the 45th percentile nationally and scoring 0.769 points per possession.
Therefore, the key to a Huskies victory will be on defense.
ears Offense versus Huskies Defense
By now, it is clear that the Huskies excellent defense is for real.
Washington’s overall defensive ranking has risen from the 98th percentile to the 99th percentile allowing only 0.593 points per possession down from 0.604.*
The Huskies are holding opponents to an average of 54.2 total points per game (17th best in the nation) and 71.4 points per Opponents’ 100 Possessions (5th nationally).*
The calling card of the Huskies defense is steals — averaging 12.4 per game (7th nationally) with a steal rate of 14.2% (6th nationally).*
The Huskies defense is versatile playing either zone (99th percentile) or player-to-player (96th percentile) at an elite level.*
Washington is elite at defending Transition offense, allowing 0.744 points per possession, and particularly defending in halfcourt (0.537 ppp).*
The Dawgs are elite defending Pick & Roll actions (96th percentile); Cuts (98th percentile; Off Screens (99th percentile); Put Backs, Spot-Ups; and Isolation plays.*
California’s overall offense is not elite (62nd percentile) and averages 71.7 points per game (68th nationally).*
Cal’s offense is most effective against zone defense (97th percentile) with 1.06 points per possession.*
The Bears are only elite at scoring off of Cut actions, scoring 1.1 points per possession on this type of play.*
The Huskies are elite at defending Cut actions, allowing 0.638 points per possession, so this will be the main point of contention that could determine the winner.*
To be clear, Cal does not rate as elite at any other type of offensive plays, instead ranging mostly Good to Average across the board.
pposing Player to Watch: What Can Brown Do for Cal?
The Bears most effective player is #33 Jaelyn Brown who scores an excellent 0.966 points per possession.*
Brown is a very active player that is most dangerous scoring off of Spot Ups (1.167 points per possession); Pick & Roll (0.929 points per possession); Cuts (1.091 ppp); and Off Screen (1.0 ppp) actions, as well as offensive putbacks.*
The Huskies defense will have to account for Brown at all times and prevent her from taking control offensively.
If the Huskies defense can limit Brown’s offensive output, Washington should win the game on defense alone, as there is no other Cal Bear that can carry the load offensively.
Our Prediction: HUSKIES WIN!
*All Stats courtesy of Synergy, NCAA and Her Hoops Stats