With a solid group of veterans being joined by one of the top recruiting classes in the country, California is expected to rebound from a 2014-15 season in which they didn’t play in a postseason tournament in a big way in 2015-16. Thursday afternoon the program announced that it has completed its non-conference schedule, with the Golden Bears hosting fellow Bay Area program Saint Mary’s December 12.
“This should be a great game. Our two Bay Area schools have a strong basketball tradition,” California head coach Cuonzo Martin said in the release. “We have not played one another in more than a decade and I know our fans will appreciate the matchup. We are fortunate that a game between our two schools worked out on the schedule this year. Hopefully, we will be able to compete against one another more often in the future.”
Martin’s team, which will be led by senior point guard Tyrone Wallace and includes talented options such as juniors Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews and freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, is expected to contend in the Pac-12 as well as make some waves nationally. In addition to the game against Saint Mary’s, Cal will play in the Las Vegas Invitational November 26-27 against San Diego State with West Virginia and Richmond matching up in the other semifinal.
The Golden Bears will play just two true road games before the start of Pac-12 play, but both of those matchups provide interesting challenges. Wyoming, which will host the Golden Bears December 5, lost four starters from last season’s NCAA tournament team but the altitude in Laramie (the highest in Division I) is even higher than what Cal experiences in road games at Utah and Colorado.
And the other road non-conference game should rate among the best in the country this season, as Cal will visit Virginia December 22. Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers have finished atop the ACC standings (regular season) in each of the last two seasons, and they’re expected to contend again in 2015-16.