Oregon State is not very good. At 10-16 on the year, and with only 5 wins in conference play, this is a team that should be an easy win. But there are no easy wins in Pac-10, especially on the road. OSU has already beaten Arizona, USC, and Washington this year. The common theme? They were all in Corvallis, which is where Saturday’s game will be held.
The Beavers run a very up tempo system, and a 1-3-1 zone on the defensive end. They force a lot of turnovers, but it comes at a price. Teams don’t miss very much when playing the Beavers, and they miss a lot. The only good news is that they’re reducing the other team’s shots with turnovers, and maximizing theirs with their league best offensive rebounding. But it remains that it’s tough to win when you’re not very good at making your shots or stopping the other team from making theirs.
While Oregon State traditionally gives the Bears troubles, at least recently, it should not be so this year. A 1-3-1 is weak on the backline, meaning a lot of opportunities for the Kamp and Sanders Frison. Given that those two convert most of their opportunities, the Bears should not have a lot of trouble scoring on the Beaver zone. The big guys in the back will likely be Joe Burton, Devon Collier, Angus Brandt, and Omari Johnson. None of them have done much to distinguish themselves, and their only strengths are rebounding and for Collier, blocking shots. They don’t do much offensively.
The Beavers are very perimeter oriented, relying on their guards for almost everything offensively. The key to their zone is the top man, Jared Cunningham. The third best player in the nation at steals, Cunningham is a pest on defense and is also very good at drawing contact and getting fouled. He is Oregon State’s best player. Roberto Nelson is a very talented freshman, but all he’s shown is an ability to shoot at a Gary Franklin like pace while making them at a slightly better rate. Calvin Haynes is the point guard of the group, with the best assist rate on the team. He’s also very good at picking up steals, but he’s overall inefficient as an offensive player. Lathen Wallace is their other wing, who doesn’t turn it over and can pick up steals. He doesn’t shoot much, but the senior is an above average offensive player. The other guard that will pick up minutes is 5-8 freshman Ahmad Starks, who struggles at shooting the ball but gives them some good minutes off the bench.
KenPom Prediction: 76-72 Cal, 64% confidence
My take: Cal should win this game. Oregon State has been bad at offense and defense in conference, and Cal matches up pretty well with them this year. OSU is still dangerous at home, but barring a clunker from Montgomery’s team this should be a win. While I wouldn’t be surprised if this game turns out closer than it should be, this game should turn out as a Cal victory.