Oregon State and Cal have not had the start to the non-conference season that they hoped for. Coming off of a Pac-12 Tournament title, their first, and a run to the Elite Eight, the Beavers have opened the season 1-6, with two losses by one point and another in overtime.
Cal appears to be ready to improve from last year’s 9-20 season, but it’s been an up-and-down affair as the Golden Bears have started 3-4. The team may have turned a corner recently, however, taking No. 21 Seton Hall to the buzzer and then playing perhaps its best game of the season in a win over Fresno State.
Both teams will be looking to start off their second season with a win as they open Pac-12 conference play against each other in Berkeley on Thursday night. This will also stand as one of the best chances each team has to get an early conference win, making it critical for both sides. Which way to lean at BMR’s best sportsbooks?
Oregon State Beavers vs. California Golden Bears
Thursday, December 02, 2021 – 10:30 PM EST at Haas Pavilion
Haven’t Put It Together
Oregon State hoped to build on the momentum of last season’s run to its first conference title and the brink of the Final Four. The team seemed well-positioned to do so. It lost leading scorer Ethan Thompson and several role players but added transfers from Maryland, Memphis, Marquette, and Minnesota to a returning core.
Things just haven’t gelled for Wayne Tinkle’s Beavers, however. They’ve been close but no cigar—four of their six losses have been within six points.
“This was a new team, and we were going to have to stay hungry and forge our own identity,” he said. “We’ve been slapped in the face a little bit.”
The main problem has been on offense. The ball is just not going in the basket.
“We’re not shooting the damn ball,” Tinkle said.
The Beavers are No. 295 in the country in three-pointers and have hit just six of their last 31 attempts over the last two games. They also aren’t hitting from inside the arc, and they’re No. 250 in free throw shooting. All of which adds up to an offense that has failed to break 60 points in three of the seven games this year.
The shooting struggles have been made worse by an injury in the post, that could have helped keep defenses honest. Seven-footer Roman Silva is struggling with a knee problem. He’s playing, but his time and production are limited.
Turning the Corner?
Cal has won three straight home games, including the most recent performance against Fresno State. The team is relying on a slow tempo—Cal ranks No. 293 in the nation in pace of play—and grinding it out.
“We need to be a low turnover team and we need to be a great defensive team,” said coach Mark Fox.
That includes keeping opponents off the free-throw line. In the three-point loss to Seton Hall, the Pirates shot 30 free throws. Cal reduced that to 13 free throws against Fresno.
The Golden Bears are also not entirely healthy. Grad transfer Jordan Shepherd is playing through a thumb injury on his shooting hand. He’s the team’s second-leading scorer, but he’s only hitting 30 percent from three.
Despite that, he’s optimistic.
“We’re in a good place and I think we’re getting better,” Shepherd said. “Starting off the season was a little rough but we’ve picked up our defensive intensity, our physicality, and our rebounding … we’re in a pretty good place.”
Cal seems to be on the right track to be in our NCAAB picks. The Golden Bears will slow things down and try to win an ugly game. Oregon State has talent, but it still seems to be searching for answers on the floor.
Look for the Golden Bears to get the win over a reeling Beavers team at the college basketball odds.
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