Cal isn't quite on the bubble this week. But they are dangerously close, and a loss on Thursday will make things even more perilous. Here are what the various bracketologists (none of whom have a real say in the matter) had to say.
- Joe Lunardi has us in as a 10th seed playing 7th seeded Creighton, the Missouri Valley Conference Champions, in Columbus, with a win likely setting us up against the Big Ten champion Michigan St. Spartans. (FWIW, Lunardi believed in his Insider Column ($) that Cal will be safe EVEN if they lose a third straight game, provided it's Furd we lose to again--losing to ASU would of course douse our hopes in kerosene.)
Chris Dobbertean also has us as a 10th seed playing Vanderbilt in the first round, with a likely date with the Spartans in the second round. Dobbertean has us among the teams standing outside the Last Four In, but we are close than we'd like to be around the S-curve. Southern Miss, BYU, Seton Hall are in similar territory.
- If you trend doom and gloom, Jerry Palm has us right where you don't want to be--the First Four games, which would require us to play an extra contest in Dayton earlier in the week. Cal would be a 12 seed playing South Florida for the right to play Florida State, with a likely date against Wisconsin the game after that. More importantly it means we're trending solid bubble right now among the Last Four In. But Palm and CBS have trended a bit more negative on the Pac-12 compared to the others.
One thing that might aid Cal in holding onto their at-large bid is that the number of bubble teams this year isn't particularly strong. Xavier, Northwestern, South Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Miami, Ole Miss, St. Joseph's, Dayton, and N.C. State are going to have to score some huge upsets this week if they want to punch that ticket. I'd say at least five-six of those are going to need to overachieve while Cal also underachieves.
Basically, Cal can erase all doubts with two wins in the tournament, particularly with a third victory over Oregon. Paradoxically, losing to Oregon and having to win the Pac-12 tournament might not be that bad, because the Ducks improving their overall RPI might make our previous two wins against Oregon look better than they were. Oregon is sitting right at 50 right now, giving Cal a 2-3 record against top 50 teams.
Also, Washington making a run would be beneficial--the Huskies are 53rd in RPI, and two or three wins could lift them up to top 50 status as well. By avoiding a rematch, we might just stick around 3-3/3-4 in these top 50 contests after it was looking like a bagel most of the year. If Cal falters, Washington or Oregon become the teams you root for the rest of the way.
There are a lot of scenarios putting Cal in and VERY few putting us out. Best to erase all doubt and just keep on winning.