#5 Cal Women's Basketball And The Pac-12 Tournament: Preview

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

So, here we are. Pac-12 Tournament Time!

WBB Pac-12 Tournament Preview

As always, twelve teams will participate in the Pac-12 tournament. And yet most eyes will be focused on just two of those teams. The first question that needs to be answered: Can anybody prevent the seemingly inevitable Cal/Stanford rubber match?

The odds are certainly in the favor of the Bay Area schools. Cal and Stanford finished an absurd sounding 32-0 against the rest of the conference. Cal won their games by an average margin of 13 points. Stanford was even more dominant, with an average margin of 22 points.

The prime contenders are Colorado and UCLA, who were themselves unbeaten against teams below them in the standings. If all goes according to seed, Colorado will face Stanford in the semi-finals while UCLA will face Cal. While an upset is hardly inconceivable, the Buffs and Bruins didn't provide much trouble to their prospective opponents during the regular season.

Even then, UCLA and Colorado are considered locks for the tournament, and with the possible exception of Washington, nobody is really on the bubble. The only drama is the presumed Battle Of The Bay Third Round: Temperate Rain Forest EditionTM.

Should Cal fans take a tournament final appearance as a given? No, probably not. On the downside, Cal's likely tournament path will be an L.A. double header, with probable opponents USC and UCLA looking to ruin things. USC is easily the toughest matchup for Cal amongst lower seeded teams. And while Colorado played the Bears tougher than UCLA, the Bruins are too talented to discount.

Depending on your perspective, the stakes in Washington are either sky-high or surprisingly low. I don't think there's any way for Cal fall lower than a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, even if they lost in the first round. But oh, there's so much to potentially gain. What would a championship game win over Stanford mean? Bay Area bragging rights. One year's worth of dominion over west coast basketball. And, unless the selection committee makes a grievous error, a #1 seed.

As far as I'm concerned, there are only 3 teams left with a shot at the final #1 seed. Here are their current resumes (RPI data via WBBState.com, accurate as of Wednesday night):


Record

RPI

SOS

Vs. RPI 1-50

Vs. RPI 1-100

Losses (RPI)

Stanford

29-2

4

8

10-2

14-2

UConn (3), Cal (9)

Cal

28-2

9

45

6-2

14-2

Duke (6), Stanford (4)

Duke

27-2

6

40

9-2

11-2

UConn (3), Miami (46)

Unfortunately, Cal's resume is slightly inferior to both Stanford and Duke. (Stupid Kansas and Georgetown! Why'd you have to play your way out of the RPI top 50!) But that difference might be surmountable with a win over Stanford, especially if Duke falls in the ACC tournament. Duke will play either NC State (RPI 106) or Clemson (185) in their first game, then either Miami (46) or Florida State (20) in the semi-finals. GO RANDOM ACC TEAMS I TYPICALLY CARE NOTHING ABOUT!

It all starts tonight with four opening round games between teams that almost certainly won't be in the NCAA tournament. Tonight the Bears will find out if they will face USC or Oregon State in round one. Tomorrow at noon, the fun begins.

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