Previewing the Pac-12 Tournament
How important is the Pac-12 tournament for this team? The Bears are safely in the tournament, no matter if they lose tomorrow night or win three straight games for the conference title. It's all a matter of maximizing their NCAA placement, which means we need to consider what seed the Bears are likely to get at the moment, and how much that hypothetical seed might swing depending on the results in Seattle.
At the moment, various projections put Cal anywhere from a 4 to a 6 seed. Their RPI (21) would roughly indicate a 5 seed as most likely. At the moment, I can't help but feel that Cal's seed is highly variable, and depends very much on how the selection committee views losses to George Washington without Gennifer Brandon and Washington without Brittany Boyd, amongst other injured players.
But for now, let's pretend that Cal is a 5 seed. Here are two questions to ponder:
1. How many wins would Cal need to even have a chance of moving up to a 3 seed?
2. If Cal wasn't able to move up to a 3 seed, would you prefer Cal as a 6 seed?
I ask these questions together because it brings up a certain fan philosophy. How important is it to avoid playing the 1 seeds for as long as possible?
In the men's tournament, the 1 seeds aren't historically as dominating as they are in the women's game. But in women's basketball, avoiding teams like UConn and Notre Dame for as long as possible might be more desirable. Personally, if Cal gets placed in the same region as UConn I'd rather see the Bears with a 6 next to their name rather than a 5.
So, is it possible for Cal to move up to a 3? Maybe. I think the only way it happens is if Cal wins the entire conference tournament, including a win in the finals over Stanford. Cal has already proven that they can consistently beat any team in the conference other than Stanford. Continuing to do so by making the finals won't move the needle. But a win over the team ranked #2 in the RPI might impress enough to make a tangible difference. Even then it's a long shot.
In any case, Cal's journey will start against either Washington State or Oregon. Personally, I think Cal matches up better against Washington State, plus playing fast-paced Oregon isn't ideal when you might have to play three games in three days. The Cougars are marginally more valuable for resume purposes, although the difference is almost certainly irrelevant at this point in the year. Either way, Cal should advance to play on Saturday if they are playing solid basketball.
That's when things get tricky. That means a date with red hot Oregon State or home team Washington. Again, Oregon State is the more valuable resume win for whatever that's worth. Both UW and OSU are on the bubble, so Cal will be sure to get their best effort if either match-up comes to pass. Whichever way it goes we'll have more in-depth previews to go along with gamethreads over the next few days.
I won't be waxing nostalgic about Cal's seniors until the season is over, and I'm hoping that won't be for another four weeks or so. But that shouldn't stop you from checking out each of these excellent videos for Cal's seniors:
These players represent the last group that had to suffer the hard knocks of the final year of the Joanne Boyle era, then got to reap the full rewards of a Final Four season. Hell of a turnaround.
All Pac-12 teams are out!
Both the media and the coaches have made their choices, except they barely had to decide. For whatever reason both groups just pick the 15 best players, which means they don't really have to make any hard choices at all.
As expected, Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray were both all 1st team selections, plus Afure Jemerigbe and Courtney Range got a couple votes from the coaches. Boyd was also picked for both all-defense teams, which was again a no-brainer.
I'm braver than both the coaches AND the media, so here are my picks, split into 1st and 2nd teams:
F - Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford
F - Reshanda Gray, California
F - Jillian Alleyne, Oregon
F - Michelle Plouffe, Utah
G - Brittany Boyd, California
This violates my pet peeve. I like to pick a balanced all-conference team. But the post players in this conference are really, really good. Which one of those forwards do you leave out? I get that Alleyne and Plouffe play for bad teams, but that's because they have very, very little talent around them.
F - Atonye Nyingifa, UCLA
F - Cassie Harberts, USC
G - Lia Galdeira, Washington State
G - Sydney Weise, Oregon State
G - Kelsey Plum, Washington
I suppose if I were forced to be balanced, I'd add Plum to the 1st team and demote . . . Hell, I don't know. Plouffe? The toughest omissions include Amber Orrange, Nirra Fields and Tia Presley. Also, OSU's Jamie Weisner would have gotten serious consideration had she not gotten injured about halfway through the conference season.
Also, can we stop just handing coach of the year automatically to Tara? We get it, she's a brilliant coach, a Hall of Famer. EVERYBODY acknowledges that. She doesn't need any more trophies. Gottlieb should have won the title last year, and Scott Rueck should have won it this year. Rant over.
So, what did I get wrong, and who did I overlook?