Click here for my college basketball column that will appear in Monday’s edition.
Matchups will be key when the Bears (10-1) take on No. 5 Wisconsin (10-1) on Monday night at 6 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.
It starts with who draws the defensive assignment against 7-foot senior Frank Kaminsky, who blossomed during the Badgers’ run to the Final Four last season, and this year is averaging 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and shooting 42.4 percent from the 3-point line.
Junior forward Sam Dekker, a 6-9, 220-pounder, also is an honors candidate and contributes 11.8 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the field. Adding to the matchup challenge is Nigel Hayes, a 6-7, 250-pound sophomore forward.
The Bears, who start three guards and sometimes have as many as four backcourt players on the floor, rarely have utilized a zone this season. That means someone will have to line up against a much bigger player when the Bears are on defense.
The guess here: senior David Kravish draws the assignment of chasing Kaminsky, Christian Behrens guards Hayes and one of the Cal guards is asked to muscle up against Dekker.
Some of the numbers look great for Cal.
Others are a bit daunting.
The Bears, off to their best start at 10-1 since the 1959-60 season, put a seven-game win streak on the line against Wisconsin.
Cal has won 17 straight nonconference games at home, but hasn’t faced anyone the likes of the Badgers during that stretch.
Wisconsin boasts wins over Oklahoma, Georgetown, Boise State, Green Bay and Marquette — teams with a combined record of 38-14. The Badgers’ only loss was an 80-70 defeat to unbeaten Duke.
Cal has an all-time record of 9-83 against teams ranked in the top five of the AP poll. The Bears are 5-3 vs. Wisconsin, 47-41 in all games vs. teams currently in the Big Ten Conference.
There’s a reason is seems like Cal junior point guard Tyrone Wallace is doing most of his scoring in the second half of games. He has tallied 63.3 percent of his points — 136 of 215 — after halftime. That includes 23 points in the second half against Nevada, 20 against Princeton and 17 against Kennesaw State.
Cal associate head coach Tracy Webster played his college ball at Wisconsin (1992-94) and left his name in the record book. He is the Badgers’ career assist leader with 501 assists and ranks second with 183 steals. He finished his Wisconsin career with 1,264 points.