5 Reasons Cal Will Win the Championship
• Two Words: Ivan. Rabb.
The 6’10” sophomore from Oakland is back and ready to lead the Golden Bears to victory night in and night out. He decided to return to Cal instead of joining his former teammate Jaylen Brown in the 2016 NBA Draft, who eventually went #3 overall to the Boston Celtics. Rabb and Brown were a great tag team of scoring and rebounding during the 2015-2016 season, but this year will be Rabb’s year to show NBA scouts that he has the abilities that are able to translate to the professional game. Rabb was named as a preseason All-American by the people at Blue Ribbon and it would not be out of the question for Rabb to be a Wooden Award hopeful. After averaging 12.5 PPG and 8.6 RPG in his freshman year, one can except those numbers to increase as he is seen as the centerpiece for Coach Cuonzo Martin’s Golden Bears.
• Home Court Advantage
During the 2015-2016 season, the Golden Bears went undefeated at home for the first time in the last 56 years, when they knocked off all teams that entered Haas Pavilion. Hoping to build off from last year’s home success, the Bears are looking to maintain this record and defend Haas during the 2016-17 season. Using this home court advantage could propel Cal into getting some more away victories this year. Cal was rather lackluster on the road and used its staggering home record to their advantage, which allowed them to be a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Look for Cal to try and maintain the home record this season, but the task is much easier said than done.
Cal’s Men’s Basketball Roster is filled with savvy upperclassmen who understand what it is like to participate in preseason tournaments as well as how to handle the pressures of Pac-12 regular season play. The pressure can begin to mount for those who do not have a couple years of experience, primarily freshmen and sophomores. Only 4 players on the roster are underclassmen, which allows for most of the team to handle the stress of league play quite well. They understand what it takes to win and know what will need to be improved at practices after losses. Overall, expect lots of leadership from the seniors like Jabari Bird and Sam Singer to help get the team prepared for the upcoming season as well as the tournament.
• Underdog Mentality
Multiple reports and predictions have Cal finishing 4th overall in the Pac-12 behind teams like UCLA, Arizona and Oregon. Last year the Golden Bears had quality wins over these teams at home but struggled on the road against these three. Along with this, the team is comprised of many role players from last year other than Bird and Rabb, so it may take a while to gel as a team, but overall people can expect Cal to relish in the light as an outsider looking in with regards to the top tier of Pac-12 teams.
• Nowhere but Up
Unfortunately, last year the Golden Bears were not as golden as scouts and analysts had thought when they entered the tourney as a 4 seed. Though banged up with multiple injuries to star players, the Bears were still favorites to beat Hawaii in the first round, but failed to do so, much to the surprise of many bracketologists. As cliché as it may sound, there is nowhere but up for these players as they and many others believe that they will make the tournament again in March of 2017, and hope to advance past the first round, a goal that was not achieved in 2015-16. With players like Rabb, Bird, Mullins and Singer, the team is ready to go and tell the whole wide world that California is Bear Territory.