Arkansas (22-11) at California (20-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, March 24, 11 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (11,877) -- Berkeley, California. Television: ESPN 2. NIT Record: Arkansas 5-3, Cal 13-6. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas Razorbacks and the California Golden Bears will square off at Haas Pavilion on Monday night in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
The winner moves on the quarterfinals later this week to take on either SMU or LSU.
Arkansas hosted its first-round matchup last Tuesday and made easy work of Indiana State, 91-71, to improve to 22-11 on the season. After taking just a six-point lead at intermission, the Razorbacks improved from 35.3 percent field goal shooting in the opening stanza to a lofty 64.5 percent in the second to pull away for the 20-point victory. Pacing five players in double figures with 28 points was Anthlon Bell, who knocked down 11-of-13 from the field, including 6-of-8 from 3-point distance. Alandise Harris (13 points) and Michael Qualls (10) were both impressive in reserve minutes, Bobby Portis tallied a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds and Coty Clarke rounded out the balanced attack with 10 points.
California (20-13) improved to a stellar 14-4 on its home floor in last week's first-round victory over Utah Valley, 77-64, as it shot 52.5 percent from the field, including 7-of-17 from beyond the arc. David Kravish was active in the frontcourt with 14 points (on 7-of-9 from the floor), 10 rebounds and five blocks. Justin Cobbs poured in 13 points and handed out seven assists, Jordan Mathews also scored 13 and Jabari Bird and Jeff Powers netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The teams met up back in November as part of the Maui Invitational, with California coming away with an 85-77 victory to pull the all-time series even at one game apiece.
The Razorbacks own the SEC's top offensive attack this season, as they shoot 44.5 percent from the field and 72.5 percent at the foul line for 80.6 ppg, and while their scoring defense has not been great (71.2 ppg), they allow opposing team to shoot just 40.4 percent and they own the nation's fourth-best turnover margin at +5.3. While Rashad Madden (12.6 ppg), Bobby Portis (12.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Michael Qualls (11.8 ppg) are the team's only double-digit scorers, the squad possesses a very deep bench with a total of 11 players netting 2.7 ppg or more.
The Golden Bears possess a much more modest offense, as they score 72.4 ppg on 45.1 percent field goal shooting, but that production has been enough to support the squad considering its solid play on the defensive end of the court (.419, 69.5 ppg). The team also lives in the positive in terms of its rebounding (+1.1) and turnover (+0.3) margins. Cobbs is one of the nation's best point guards, posting 15.8 ppg and 5.8 apg, while shooting 46 percent from the field and 81.9 percent at the free-throw line. Richard Solomon (11.0 ppg) is the nation's 13th-leading rebounder with 10.2 ppg, but he missed the first round with a concussion. Tyrone Wallace (11.3 ppg) and Kravish (11.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg) round out the balanced squad.
Although Arkansas was able to survive its first-round matchup, it has struggled on the road this season (3-6), which does not bode going up against a stellar California squad in front of its home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 77, Arkansas 71
03/24 10:34:31 ET