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Cal basketball Pac-12 tournament preview: What's at stake for the Bears?

Is this the team that brings Cal their first ever Pac-12 tournament title?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Reef: Many people frame NCAA tournament goals in terms of rounds or weekends. I think of it differently: I think it's an opportunity to demonstrate on a high profile, high pressure stage that you are able to compete with the best teams in the country. Simply put, I want us to play well against good teams. If that is the standard, Cal has shown a limited ability to do that away from Haas Pavilion. We played excellent basketball at Virginia. We played pretty good basketball (or at least pretty good defense) at Arizona. Otherwise, our performance away from Haas has been decidedly mediocre, and even in the two good games, we failed to execute offensively down the stretch. 

I think of the Pac-12 tournament as an opportunity to show what we can do, before we REALLY have to show what we can do. Pac-12 road games might not be a fair test, but neutral venue games in conference tournaments certainly are. I have yet to see this team put together a complete game outside of Berkeley. I suspect they are capable of it, but I don't have much proof. This week, I don't have to speculate. Show me.

Nick Kranz: From the history file, Cal has the opportunity to do two things unprecedented in program history: Win the Pac-12 tournament, and earn a top 4 NCAA tournament seed. The Pac-10/12 tournament has been contested 18 times, and Cal has only even managed to advance to the final twice. The NCAA tournament started using modern seeds in 1979, and the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and in that time Cal has never been adjudged by the selection committee to be one of the 16 best teams in the country. It'd be pretty, pretty great if Cal could end either one of those streaks.

There's urgency this year. Next year's team should be competitive, but it will likely be a different group with different strengths and weaknesses. And unfair or not, teams define their legacy in March. I'd like Ty (and, in all likelihood, Ivan and Jaylen) to leave with as strong a legacy as possible.

Ruey Yen: I have no doubt that when we look back upon this year's team, when Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb have become NBA stars and some combination of Tyrone Wallace, Jabari Bird, Kameron Rooks, and Kinsley Okoroh are also in the Association, we will wonder why this group did not win the Pac-12 regular season title. For the legacy of this special team (yes, the best way for them to carve out their legacy is in the NCAA tournament), I want us to win the Pac-12 Tournament. I do think we are one of the favorites, and we have both the talent and depth to pull this off. More importantly, I think a deep run next week will give us that much needed confidence in the NCAA tournament - a difference that might put us over the top in a coin toss game against another good team.

The Bears have beaten every team in the Pac this year. There are no death match ups. I want to go back to Haas in the future and remember this time by a 2016 Pac-12 Tournament Champion banner.

Scott Chong: It seems every year we're behind the 8-ball when it comes to the conference tournament.  Just not deep, experienced, or talented enough to have a legitimate shot.  'Can't say that this year.  Our time with Rabb and Brown might be brief, but let's make it memorable.  Cal sports is super-saturated with "what-ifs" and "what could have beens."  As enjoyable as this year has been, I don't want my lasting memories to be qualified w/ the regret of near-misses.  Let's go on a run and beat someone, darnit.  Why not us?  Why not Cal?

Reef: With all this talk of history and legacy, I think it's important to note that two months ago there was a lot of open speculation on this site that Cal would not even make the NCAA tournament. Now here we are in March, and the Bears are a mortal lock for inclusion. They could lose their opening game by 50 and probably be no worse than an 8 seed. Legacy is what we're playing for, not survival. That is a luxury very few Cal basketball teams have had in the past. Hopefully what that produces is a loose, aggressive, energetic team that's ready to come out and dominate.