#4 California vs. #13 Hawaii
Friday 12 pm
Well the tournament is finally here. Due to the lack of writers for Cal and Hawaii, I will be covering both these teams throughout the tournament. This was one of the more intriguing games that I saw when I first looked at the bracket. Hawaii may be a 13 seed but they are ranked as a top 75 team in kenpom.com and they have really looked strong at points this season. California is a team with almost unlimited potential but their youth and inexperience has been their achilles heel at times in the Pac-12. Cal has two very talented freshman in Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. These guys will both likely be lottery picks in the next NBA draft. Combine this with Tyrone Wallace at the point to make a very scary starting lineup. Hawaii has a very well balanced attack and are most successful when they are getting the ball into the paint.
Match-Up to Watch
The key matchup to watch will be Ivan Rabb for Cal against Stefan Jankovic. Jankovic was named the Big West player of the year and he is the main offensive threat for Hawaii. He is a junior who transferred in from Missouri two seasons ago. This year he has averaged 16.6 points and almost 7 rebounds a game. Cal will send touted freshman Ivan Rabb at Jankovic to try and slow him down. Rabb is loaded with potential but has been no slouch this season averaging 12.4 points and 8 rebounds a game. Both of these big men will be the key to success. If one of them gets in foul trouble that could spell trouble for either Cal or Hawaii.
X-Factor for California
The X-Factor for Cal will be how many turnovers they can force. This season Cal is 347th in the country in turnovers forced with just over 14 a game. If they want to avoid an upset they will have to use their stingy defense and create more turnovers to get out on the break and use their advanced talent. If Hawaii can take care of the ball then they can control the pace of the game.
X-Factor for Hawaii
The X-Factor for Hawaii will be slowing down Jaylen Brown. Brown is an electric scorer who can carry a team when he is on. He is averaging 15 points per game this season but his scoring has fluctuated based on the game. He scored 8 and 12 points respectively in their Pac-12 tournament games but has showed the ability to put 25-30 on teams. If he is efficient in knocking down his shots then Hawaii will be in trouble. They need to slow down Jaylen Brown to stay in the game or potentially pull off an upset.
The key stat will be Hawaii’s 2 point field goal percentage. Hawaii was 16th in the country this season shooting 54.6% on their 2 point shots. Adversely, Cal is number one in 2-point field goal defense holding opponents to 40.9% from inside the arc.
I have been torn about my pick for this game since I saw the bracket. Jaylen Brown can be inefficient and ineffective offensively at times and if he is then Hawaii will be right there. I am going to go out on a limb and pick Hawaii 65-62. Jaylen Brown is ineffective and Ivan Rabb gets schooled by the older Stefan Jankovic.
If I am wrong my twitter handle is @buffalobrad42. This should be an exciting game either way. I think the Pac-12 is in a down year and that may have helped Cal get their stature this season. Brown’s inconsistencies make them such a tough team to peg.
Indiana University, Class of 2018