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Basketball: Cal in 3-way tie for fourth place — how it all unravels on Saturday

After four games on the second-to-last night of the Pac-10 regular season, Arizona has control of the title race again and Cal finds itself in a three-way tie for fourth place.

Arizona’s 70-59 home victory over Oregon State, coupled with UCLA’s 70-63 loss at Washington, gives the Wildcats at least a share of their first league title in six years. They can clinch the crown outright on Saturday with a win over Oregon, regardless of how UCLA fares at Washington State.

But the UCLA-WSU game has ramifications for Cal. So does USC’s game at Washington.

Cal, WSU and USC share fourth place, all at 9-8.

If Cal beats Stanford on Saturday and both the Cougars and Trojans lose, the Bears have fourth place outright and the No. 4 seed for next week’s Pac-10 tournament. That much is easy.

Here’s where it gets a bit complicated:

In the case of a three-way tie

If all three teams win or lose and finish in a three-way tie, the first tiebreaker is how the three did against the others. All of them were 1-1 against the others, so that settles nothing.

The next tiebreaker is how they fared against the teams above them in the standings, starting at the top. USC went 1-1 against first-place Arizona and both Cal and WSU were 0-2, so the Trojans would earn the No. 4 seed.

Next: How to separate Cal and WSU. If UCLA finishes second, Cal has the edge because of its overtime win over the Bruins. That is, unless the Cougars beat UCLA on Saturday. Then they remain tied.

At that point, the tie would be broken based on records against third-place Washington. WSU swept the Huskies, Cal lost twice, so the Cougars would be the No. 5 seed, and Cal No. 6.

Thanks to Todd for pointing out that for there to be a three-way tie for fourth, UCLA and Washington would either have to both win or both lose, so nothing is altered on that potential tiebreaking front.

In the case of a two-way tie

If Cal is tied for fourth only with USC, the Trojans’ win over Arizona gives them the No. 4 seed, and Cal is No. 5. But it really doesn’t matter since No. 4 and No. 5 play one another in the Pac-10 quarterfinals.

If Cal is tied for fourth with WSU, both teams would have lost twice to Arizona and split with UCLA. Thus, WSU’s sweep of Washington gives the Cougs the No. 4 seed. Again, Cal would be No. 5 and face the Cougars at noon next Thursday.

Pac-10 standings

Arizona 13-4
UCLA 12-5
Washington 11-6
Cal 9-8
USC 9-8
Washington State 9-8
Oregon 7-10
Stanford 7-10
Oregon State 5-12
Arizona State 3-14

Jeff Faraudo

  • jeh

    Jeff, don’t you have the standings incorrect? UCLA should be 12-5 and Washington 11-6?

    I doubt that there will be a 3-way tie with Cal, USC, and WSU. Probably–if Cal can take Stanford–Cal ends up alone in 4th, with UCLA beating WSU and Washington beating USC.

  • K1W

    No matter what happens, Cal is NOT playing on Wednesday next week. But finishing 4th or 5th (not 6th) would be nice, to avoid playing Washington in the first game. For Cal, Washington is the #1 (hardest team to beat) in the conference.

    I think Cal has a very good chance at 4th. Cal has the most winnable game, of the three that matter, playing in Berkeley against Stanford. USC will fail at Washington. WSU has a shot at beating UCLA, but UCLA will be VERY motivated to not allow Washington to catch up and take the #2 spot. Being #3 earns a tough first game against #6 (whether that’s Cal, WSU, or USC).

  • ondal

    WSU lost Reggie Moore to an ankle injury. His status for Saturday is uncertain.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    4/5 seed is the same, you just wear a different color, sit at a different bench. But the winner of 4/5 plays AZ to whom Cal lost by only 2 twice, or a tired 8/9 seed.

    OTOH, 6 seed plays most likely Washington or ucla in LA, both very bad matchups for Cal.

    this is what will happen: cal beats stanfurd, wsu beats ucla, wash beats usc and Cal gets 5 seed vs wsu in LA, imo a better matchup than vs. usc in LA.

    March madness is underway…Go Bears!

  • Uh Huh!

    I would say that UCLA beats WSU and UCLA, especially if Reggie Moore is injured. That way, Cal gets USC in LA. Game on.

    But Jeff points out that because of the tie breakers, if Cal loses to Stanford tomorrow, then we will end up in 6th, facing (most likely) UW (but possibly UCLA).

    Either way, for Cal to have lost 8 players and be talking about seeds 4/5/6 is very surprising.

    Let’s review:
    PG Jerome Randle
    SG Patrick Christopher
    SF Theo Robertson
    PF Jamal Boykin
    C Max Zhang
    PF Omondi Amoke
    SG D.J. Seeley
    PG Nicola Knezevich

    That’s just a ton! So, unbelievable, really.

  • Jeff Faraudo

    Yes, Jeb — I fouled up the records of UCLA and UW, but have corrected them. Thanks.

  • Alex

    @Uh Huh!
    We also lost Gary Franklin jr. after the first conference game (which we lost). Pretty amazing job Monty has done.

  • milo

    Monty has done great, all things considered. The only thing that makes it better is Monty at Cal still pisses off Furd, and Furd has not done well.