Breaking Down Pac-12 Non-Conference Schedules: California and StanfordPosted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 4th, 2013
In order to prepare you for the first two months of the season, we’ve been breaking down all 12 non-conference slates over the last few weeks. Up next: the Bay Area schools.
Teams are listed in order of which they will be played. Last season’s RPI in parenthesis. Potential opponents (one round in advance) are italicized. All times listed are Pacific.
Cream of the Crop: vs. Syracuse (#14), vs. Minnesota (#34), @ Creighton (#24)
California will face two of those three teams. The Golden Bears play either Syracuse or Minnesota in the second round of the Maui Invitational on November 26. The Orange finished 2012-13 with a record of 30-10, which included six wins over ranked opponents as well as a six-point victory against Cal in the round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Gophers started last season 15-1 but were handled by Florida in their second game of the NCAAs. The only known game on this list is a December 22 trip to Omaha to face Creighton, which will be Cal’s last game before Christmas break. The Bluejays topped Mike Montgomery’s team by a score of 74-64 last December in Berkeley, so they’ll look to return the favor this time around against the new Big East opponent. Creighton is loaded in the backcourt with both Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs returning.
Solid Names: Denver (#66), Oakland (#152), vs Arkansas (#95), UC Irvine (#126), Nevada (#173), Fresno State (#135)
This is the most populated group. Denver highlights the list after making it to the second round of the NIT last March. Senior forward Chris Udofia averaged 13.3 PPG for the Pioneers last season and is a near-lock for first team All-Summit League. Three days after facing Denver, Oakland comes to town. Four starters return for the Grizzlies and they will compete with Green Bay for the Horizon League title. The Golden Bears and Arkansas will meet in the first round of the Maui Invitational, and Cal’s first three home games after that will be against the Anteaters, Wolfpack and Bulldogs. If it loses more than one game against these six clubs, California has a long year in front of it.
RPI Anchors: Coppin State (#313), Southern Utah (#314), @ UC Santa Barbara (#245), Furman (#343)
Four cupcakes sprinkle California’s schedule. Two come from the western half of the country while Coppin State and Furman will visit from the East Coast. The Eagles will be Cal’s regular season opener on November 8 at 9:00 PM on the Pac-12 Networks. Southern Utah comes calling 10 days later as the final tune-up for the Bears before they hit the Hawaiian Islands. UC Santa Barbara might prove interesting as Cal has to make the five-hour trip down to UCSB, but they should easily dispatch Furman on December 28 to close out non-conference play.
Cream of the Crop: vs. Pittsburgh (#43), @ Connecticut (#49), vs. Michigan (#21)
Pittsburgh is one of the two options for Stanford’s second and final game of the Legends Classic “Championship” Round, which is played in Brooklyn. That game will be played at the front end of Feast Week on November 26. The Cardinal’s second eastern road trip of the season begins on December 18 at Connecticut in a game that will be televised by ESPN2. The Huskies finished last year with a 20-10 record and return all of the key players from that team. The final marquee game will be another one in Brooklyn, a meeting with Michigan coming at the end of the second East Coast trip. The Wolverines lose their top two guards from the team that went to the National Championship game last April, but bringing in a trio of four-star recruits will help ease the blow. By the time December 21 rolls around, they should be rolling once again and ready to give the Cardinal a whole bunch of match-up problems.
Solid Names: Bucknell (#51), BYU (#63), Northwestern (#168), @ Denver (#66), South Dakota State (#62), Cal Poly (#164)
A visit from Bucknell to open the season is the headliner here. The Cardinal and Bison will tip off at 7:00 PM on November 8 on the Pac-12 Networks. The Bison return preseason first team All-Patriot League pick Cameron Ayers at guard, but replacing power forward/center Mike Muscala, picked in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks, will be a challenge, especially when Buckenll visits the Farm. Johnny Dawkins‘ team will open the month of December with a visit from South Dakota State, another NCAA Tournament team that won 25 games in 2012-13. If somebody else manages to replace half the numbers that the departed Nate Wolters put up in his career in Brookings, an upset could be in the cards here.
RPI Anchors: Texas Southern (#184), vs Houston (#197), vs Texas Tech (#216), UC Davis (#234)
Texas Southern is the class of this final group. Stanford welcomes the Tigers into Maples Pavilion on November 21 at 7:00 PM, another game televised by the Pac-12 Networks. Four days later, Stanford and Houston will meet in Brooklyn at 6:30 PM on ESPN2. The winner of that one advances to the title game of the Legends Classic. That title game could be against Texas Tech, or a match-up with the better team, Pittsburgh, as we mentioned above. The final cupcake on the slate is in-state rival UC Davis, a team that finished last season at 14-17.