The California Golden Bears and Yale Bulldogs will be squaring off on Friday in the 2018-19 Pac-12 China Game, held at the Baoshan Sports Center in Shanghai. This obviously marks the season opener for both teams, who were in China earlier this week preparing for Friday rather than tipping things off on their side of the pond along with the rest of the country.
Bark is back in the Bulldogs
The Bulldogs return a veteran squad with the majority of their production coming back. That includes leading scorer guard Miye Oni (15.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game) along with backcourt mate Alex Copeland (11.2 ppg). Forward Blake Reynolds and big man Paul Atkinson (6’10”) gave Yale a combined 20.0 ppg and 10.1 rpg, so the projected lineup has decent size.
Yale was picked to finish third in the Ivy League in the preseason poll. Expectations are relatively high, and they should be. The Bulldogs return 95 percent of their offensive production from a year ago. Trey Phills earned Second Team All-Ivy honors and Jordan Bruner is also back after missing all of the 2017-18 campaign due to injury. Over the last four seasons, Yale has compiled a 42-14 Ivy League record. During this stretch, the ‘Dogs have won two league titles and reached the championship game of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament in 2017.
California was historically bad last season, with only eight total wins (a mere two in the Pac-12). It is hard to say what the Golden Bears’ goals should be in 2018-19, but simply being competitive would be a start. After all, 13 their 17 conference losses in 2017-18 came by double-digits, with an average margin of defeat of 16 points. What was the culprit? Well, Cal’s offense was ridiculously turnover prone and the Bears were one of the worst shooting teams in conference history.
Head Coach Wyking Jones of @CalMBBall is drawing from experience playing in China. More than 20 years ago, Jones toured the country for a series of games and now he's channeling that memory to prepare his Golden Bears for the #Pac12ChinaGame Learn more: https://t.co/TFNj6ei4nK pic.twitter.com/dTHkt951Gg
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 6, 2018
The addition of point guard Paris Austin, a Boise State transfer, should solve at least some of the team’s turnover woes, In addition to Austin, who is more of a slasher and distributor than a shooter, the core of this roster will feature sophomores Justice Sueing, Juhwan Harris-Dyson, and Darius McNeill. Although they may be more suited for bench roles, head coach Wyking Jones has no choice but to throw them in there for what could be some tough but necessary growing pains. As for the recruiting class, Matt Bradley, Andre Kelly, Connor Vanover, and Jacobi Gordon will all likely get opportunities to contribute right away–mostly by default.
The California Golden Bears are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last five overall
- 4-11-1 ATS in their last 16 neutral-site games
- 7-15 ATS in their last 22 non-conference games
The Yale Bulldogs are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last five overall
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 neutral-site games
- 4-0-1 ATS in their last five Friday games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Bulldogs may play an Ivy League schedule, but this program has been tested by elite competition in recent seasons–including in the NCAA Tournament. There will be no backing down–especially not against a California team that could be one of the worst among the Power 5 conference representatives. Experience should get the best of youth in this unusual contest across the pond.
Prediction: Yale Bulldogs
Full-Game Total Pick
California leading scorer Don Coleman (14.2 ppg) is gone. Marcus Lee (11.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg) has also departed. The under is 4-0 in the Bulldogs’ last four non-conference contests, 5-2 in their last seven against the Pac-12, and 9-4-1 in their last 14 at neutral sites. It is also 13-3 in the Golden Bears’ last 16 overall. Look for this one to stay under the total.