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The fate of the Bears season seemed to be on the field for Saturday’s matchup against Washington. Losing to a 1-8 team would have ended Cal’s hopes for the rest of the year. The Huskies are the only Pac-12 team without a conference win and stand 1-9 in total. So with an 84-78 win there was still no reason to smile. It was a game where blue and gold should win. It was a game the bears had to win.
In fairness the team was without Matt Bradley, who is unlikely to be playing anytime soon. This means that Cal has to prepare for another conference game without his leading scorer.
The bears have their hands full when they take on the Colorado Buffaloes, who are 9-3 a year. The same Washington team that Cal took part in was completely destroyed by Colorado – not a promising sign of the bears’ hopes in this game.
Cal allowed the Huskies, averaging 63 points per game, to score 78 points . For reference, Colorado averages 74.8 points per game. With the way the buffalo hit basketball, it’s hard to see the blue and gold slowing them down. Colorado has a balanced offense and does not rely on a single player to carry the goal load for the team, which helps keep it constant.
The Buffalo’s greatest strength lies in the charity streak. They lead the nation in the free throw with 85.6%. That percentage is almost 20% better than the bear average of 66%. Cal did a great job keeping teams off the free throw line and needs to prioritize that more than ever in this game considering how accurate the Buffalo are when it comes to freebies.
Without a surprise Bradley comeback, it is highly unlikely that the bears can win this game. That’s just the reality. However, if Cal manages to keep the competition competitive, it would be a good sign of how the bears will behave after Bradley’s return. If blue and gold hold their defeat in single digits or somehow manage to win, it should be a moral victory. With or without Bradley, they have nothing to do with being in a competitive game with Colorado.
The talent disadvantage means that the bears not only have to play harder and smarter than the buffalo, but they also have to score a lot more three-points. The three-point shot has given basketball more randomness than ever before. Cal is just trying to get as many threes as possible and hope enough falls to make this a competitive game.
There is no pressure on the bears. Unlike their previous game, they are not expected to win or even be competitive. The pressure is everything on Colorado. This is a must for them. For Cal, things can only go up.
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