Pac-12 Tournament: Arizona vs. Cal quarterfinal preview
LAS VEGAS – The 2015 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament opened on Wednesday in Sin City with a quality quartet of games that kept fans entertrained all day long.
How 'bout doing it all over again?
The MGM Grand Garden Arena will host four more contests on Thursday, as the quarterfinals will pit the conference's remaining eight teams against one another for a shot to advance to the semifinals. Fans can receive free access to Pac-12 Networks' broadcasts of Thursday's first three games (12 p.m. PT, 2:30 p.m. PT, and 6 p.m. PT) on Pac-12.com or the Pac-12 Now app, while the 8:30 p.m. PT tip-off will be shown on ESPN.
Here are key storylines for the day's first quarterfinal matchup:
(1) Arizona vs. (8) Cal
Time: 12 p.m. PT
Outlook: If this contest goes anything like the first two between these teams, Cal doesn't stand a chance on paper. Arizona handed the Bears a 73-50 loss on Jan. 24 in Berkeley before routing them 99-60 last Thursday in Tucson. But Cal looked like a completely different team on Wednesday, shooting the lights out in an 84-59 win over Washington State in the 2015 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament opener. The Bears shot 58.5 percent from the field against the Cougars, draining 8-of-12 attempts from three-point range.
The Wildcats present a host of matchup problems for the Bears, especially down low. Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski and forward Brandon Ashley give the Wildcats a big size advantage, putting a lot of pressure on Cal senior David Kravish, who dropped a career-high 25 points on Wednesday. While Cal's guard group of Tyrone Wallace, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews will give Arizona a handful, the Wildcats are a deeper team with a lot of talent in the post. Unless the Bears find a way to control the paint, it could be another long day against the Pac-12's top seed.
Not that Cal coach Cuonzo Martin is backing down from the challenge.
"I don't know if it's daunting," Martin said of the Arizona matchup. "You're playing against an opponent in your league. We didn't play well at their place the last game. We'll make adjustments and go from there. Again, you're playing basketball, it's a neutral court game, opponent in your league. Prepare yourelf to win the ballgame."
With explosive point guard T.J. McConnell running the show, Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the wing, and Gabe York coming off the bench, the Wildcats can beat you in a multitude of ways. There's a reason why they're 28-3 and in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.