At the moment, Cal basketball has to feel pretty good about their tournament chances. Only a 1-4/0-5 finish might knock them totally back to the NIT. Any other scenario and they probably get in. They are far from being safe, but the Golden Bears have to like where they stand.
Where they can’t like where they stand is the tourney seeds. According to Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology, Cal is currently slated in the dreaded seed of death, the 9th spot. Cal draws Memphis in Buffalo before facing (guess who) Syracuse for a Sweet 16 matchup. I enjoy playing the big teams as much as anyone, but a little variety might be nice!
Jerry Palm is a little kinder, knocking us down to a 10 seed to face UMass in Buffalo before drawing Cincinnati in game 2. Chris Dobbertean also slots us in a 10 seed against Memphis, with Kansas waiting in the next round.
So, Cal has the two most difficult games remaining on their schedule this week in Arizona and Arizona State. If the Bears win both, they are in, no doubt. If they win one, they are still in (UNLESS they drop the rest of their games).
More importantly, Cal seems locked in that 8-10 seed area which will make it tough for them to escape the opening weekend. The only way to get out of that is to probably go on some crazy run in the Pac-12 tournament or sweep the Arizona schools. Sweeping Arizonas in Arizona is something we do approximately never, although to be fair we haven’t been swept on this road trip since Monty got here. SPLITSVILLE CITY!
Still, the talk of NIT from upset fans who've seen the Bears drop too many games against big Pac-12 foes is a bit overstated. Since the USC loss, all of Cal's losses are against tournament teams. All it takes is one or two marquee wins to turn the talk right back around. They can come this week.