After squeaking by the feisty jump-shooters from Drake, and the tough bruisers from Georgia Tech, it's on to the title round against...the UOP Tigers?
Despite starting the year 1-2 with losses to Fresno State and Oral Roberts, UOP shocked everyone except for themselves with back to back upsets of Xavier and pre-tourney favorite St. Mary's.
These performances are no fluke; the final score may have only been 76-66, but make no mistake - UOP was blowing out the Gaels by as much as nineteen before garbage time.
Although they don't have a player in their rotation taller than 6'8, the Tigers are out-rebounding teams through sheer hustle. They also use their depth and quickness to run a physical, swarming, trapping defense that disrupts offensive rhythm and forces turnovers. On offense, they have a balanced attack with several players all capable of putting up double figures. They go 9+ deep and bring plenty of scoring and rebounding off the bench.
This is a team playing with confidence, a high level of intensity, and they absolutely will punch the Bears in the mouth if we don't take them seriously.
Right out of the gates, the two teams began exchanging blows. True to form, the Yellowjackets hit the offensive glass and made a concerted effort to work it inside. With all the attention being paid to Cobbs and Crabbe, the Bears were able to find Kravish in the lane early for six quick points. Although the Bears eked out a slim five point lead at the fifteen minute mark, Georgia Tech's defense kept it close as an ugly, scrappy game. By the ten minute mark, it was all tied up at 17.
Having staged a furious 2nd half comeback to avoid getting Stanford'd by the feisty Drake Bulldogs, the Cal Bears advance to a semi-finals match-up against the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets. Although Georgia Tech ranged from woeful to awful(11-20) last year, they're 3-0 thus far in 2012. Bolstered by plenty of returning veterans and a #16 national recruiting class, the Yellowjackets rely on defense, rebounding, and rugged inside play. It's a good thing Cal hasn't struggled with...defense or rebounding.