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Wisconsin vs. Cal: 3 things to watch in Badgers vs. Bears

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin takes on the Cal Bears Monday night in Berkley, Calif., on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. CT. The two teams meet with the same record, 10-1, which is Cal's best start since the 1959-60 season when the Bears won the national championship. The Badgers and Bears have met eight times previously, with Cal leading the series 5-3. The teams last met in Madison in 2012 with an 81-56 win for the Badgers.

The Bears are led by former Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin, who is in his first year at the Pac-12 school. While this isn't the Badgers' first road game, it will be the first in which they will have very few supporters in the crowd. At the Battle 4 Atlantis, the crowd was heavily pro-Badger. While they have played UW-Milwaukee and Marquette on the road, there was also a significant amount of red in the crowd at those in-state games.

The Bears come in averaging 70.8 points per game along with 38.5 rebounds per game. They are shooting almost 47 percent from the field and distribute the ball well at 15.2 assists per game. The Bears are an athletic bunch with the ability to put the ball in the hoop with ease.

Cal starting five

Tyrone Wallace 6'5"

Jordan Mathews 6'3"

David Kravish 6'10"

Christian Behrens 6'8"

Jabari Bird 6'6"

Wisconsin starting five

G Traevon Jackson 6'2

G Josh Gasser 6'3

C Frank Kaminsky 7'0

F Nigel Hayes 6'7

F Sam Dekker 6'9

Keys to success

1. Slow Tyrone Wallace

The Badgers will have to stop Cal's most lethal weapon in guard Tyrone Wallace. Wallace leads the team in points (19.5), rebounds (8.9), assists (4.4), three-point percentage (50 percent) and steals (1.3) per game. Needless to say, the guy is good. It is assumed that Josh Gasser will be guarding the junior from Bakersfield, Calif.,, but Wallace will have the advantage of length on the heady redshirt senior. You can't expect to stop a player as good as Wallace, but you can hope to slow his production. This is will be an interesting matchup for the Badgers.

2. Figure out matchups early

While the Badgers match up pretty well with the Bears on paper, it will be interesting to see if Cal's athleticism can give them fits, especially in the backcourt. The Bears play a three-guard, two-forward system like Wisconsin last season, and will match up against a three-forward, two-guard starting five. It will be a battle of matchups throughout the game. The Cal guards are big and are taller than Traevon Jackson and Gasser, but its frontcourt doesn't have the size to compete with Frank Kaminsky in the starting five. Kingsley Okoroh does, though. The 7'1 center is averaging just under 11 minutes a game. If Kravish struggles to handle Kaminsky, look for Cuonzo Martin to pull Okoroh off the bench and try to provide help on defense.

3. Play strong on the road

Without a large fan contingent at the game, Wisconsin will look to bolster its tournament resume and get to win No. 11. This game is a great test before Big Ten play starts on Dec. 31. The Badgers are coming off of a nine-day layoff for finals, so they will not only be battling an opposing crowd, but rust, and an athletic team. On the other hand, Cal just played a game on Friday night. An interesting component will be how the Badgers come out of the gates. Will they be stale and sluggish, or will they be chomping at the bit to get back onto the court?