Busting Brackets

Cal vs. UCLA: Game preview, prediction, TV schedule

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 21: Aaron Holiday
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 21: Aaron Holiday /

UCLA continues their trip to the state of California, while the Golden Bears host their second straight team from the city of Los Angeles.

TV Schedule: Saturday, January 6, 6:30 p.m. ET, PAC12 Network

Arena: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, California

The UCLA Bruins enter Saturday’s game at Cal-Berkeley with a 2-1 record in Pac-12 play. They still have to prove worthy of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, though.

Since an embarrassing home loss at the hands of Cincinnati, the Bruins have not dropped a game until Thursday’s double-overtime defeat. That stretch includes an upset of the Kentucky Wildcats and two visits from Washington’s Pac-12 programs, which were steamrolled by a combined 35 points.

Aaron Holiday has emerged as the star the Bruins desperately needed. The guard scored 33 points in their Pac-12 opener, following it up with two solid all-around performances.

Freshman Kris Wilkes has stepped up too, though. He has scored 39 combined points over the past two games. He now averages 13.4 points per game.

The Cal Golden Bears are working to redeem themselves after an embarrassing start to the season. Home losses to UC Riverside and Central Arkansas, as well as a loss to Division II Chaminade, killed their NCAA Tournament dreams. New coach Wyking Jones will need time to rebuild the program.

That being said, the Golden Bears have played better of late. They overcame a 17-point deficit to top Stanford in their Pac-12 opener, then outscored USC in the second half after a putrid first half on Thursday.

Cal is one of the worst defensive teams in the nation, though, giving up 79.7 points per game. They also don’t distribute the ball well at all, averaging just 10.9 assists per game.

Next: Updated Player of the Year rankings

Playing at Haas Pavilion will give Cal a fighting chance against a UCLA squad that still has depth issues. Ultimately, the Bruins will prove why they’re fighting for an NCAA Tournament seed, while the Golden Bears will show why they’ll finish near the bottom of the conference standings.

Prediction: UCLA 83, Cal 66