I don't really want to think about this game, but the picture, with Brittany's hair and concentration on the ball, and Cal spirit in the background, was too cool to avoid. - USA TODAY Sports
We try to predict Cal's NCAA bracket destination! Be warned: Nothing from this point over will make any sense.
When Cal lost to UCLA on Saturday, I resigned myself to what seemed like the inevitable: Cal would be a 2 seed in the same region as Baylor.
We've talked about it a bit before, but in case you need catching up: the women's basketball selection committee doesn't seed teams strictly by the 'S curve' - reducing travel and keeping teams close to home is a huge concern. Stanford will be the 1 seed in Spokane, the committee wouldn't put conference mates as the 1 and 2 seeds in the same region, and so the Bears will be placed as the 2 seed in the next closest geography region - Oklahoma City, where Baylor will be the first overall seed. Even if the committee thinks that Cal has the 6th best resume in the country, rather than the 8th best.
This sounds like me complaining, and it basically is. Which is insane. Would I really be annoyed with the selection committee for giving Cal a 2 seed?! If I had been told that the Bears would be a 2 seed prior to the beginning of the season I would have taken it with no questions asked.
So no, a 2 seed wouldn't really be a bad thing. But I'm a voraciously selfish monster. Plus a whiner. I want a bracket that will maximize Cal's chances of getting to New Orleans. Being in the same region as Baylor is not the way to do it. Is there any reason to hope for the Bears to avoid the Brittany Griner freight train?
Another decision the committee members will have to make is whether to put either Cal or UCLA in the same region as Stanford. Following the rules of geographical preference, one of them really has to end up in the Spokane Regional. However, after making many fans and coaches upset in 2011 by putting conference foes together (No. 1 Baylor and No. 2 Texas A&M both in Dallas and No. 1 Stanford and No. 3 UCLA both in Spokane, Wash.), the committee went against that idea last year.
If the committee has to choose between putting UCLA and Cal in Spokane along with Stanford, I would think the choice should be clear: Saturday loss aside, the Bears have a better resume than the Bruins, and should get the preference. And although the idea of potentially facing Stanford in the NCAA tournament is a bit repetitive, I'd much rather face a team I know the Bears can beat.
You should read the entirety of Charlie Creme's article quoted above just to get a sense of how weird women's basketball bracketology is, especially this year. The secondary question is: where will Cal get sent to for the opening round? It's a virtual guarantee that it will be on the home floor of another team in Cal's pod. So it becomes a matter of preference. Would we rather Cal potentially face St. John's, Gonzaga, Iowa or LSU in the 2nd round on their home floor.
In my mind, the order of preference is clear: Iowa, Gonzaga, St. John's, LSU. Why?
LSU scares me the most. Nikki Caldwell still gives me night sweats, and the Tigers had a seven game winning streak that included wins over Kentucky and Texas A&M before losing in the SEC tournament. No thanks. St. John's isn't necessarily a terrifying team, but we don't want our Bears having to fly to New York. Gonzaga is closest, but the Zags have a history of great crowds and early round upsets when playing at home (just ask UCLA). So I'd prefer the Bears go to face the same Iowa team they beat in the first round last year.
Except I'd rather the Bears get sent to Spokane to maybe face Gonzaga if it means they are in the Spokane regional rather than the Oklahoma City regional with Baylor. Yes, Spokane is a first round site, and also a regional site, but the first round site won't necessarily be bracketed into the Spokane regional bracket. This makes no sense and I hate it. How do people do this for a living?
This is a long-winded way of saying: we don't know what will happen. I'll be happy if we see Cal's name pop up as far away from Baylor as possible, even if it's something weird like a 3 seed. Anything after that? Gravy.