Basketball: What Bears need to get title share

A humorous moment after Cal’s win over Colorado on Saturday afternoon:

Coach Mike Montgomery was asked if he planned to tune in to the Arizona-UCLA game on TV a bit later.

“There are only two games that mean anything to me right now — our game against Stanford and Oregon’s game at Colorado,” he said.


It slipped Monty’s mind that UCLA also sits one game ahead of the Bears in the loss column of the Pac-12 standings, not just Oregon.

Cal got no help Saturday evening from Arizona, which lost 74-69 at UCLA. That pushed the Bruins into a tie for first with the Ducks at 12-4.

Cal now resides alone in third place at 12-5. Arizona has slipped to fourth at 11-6.

The Bears have clinched a top-four finish, which is big because it means they won’t have to begin play in the Pac-12 tournament until the quarterfinal round on Thursday, March 14 in Las Vegas.

Cal still can earn a piece of its second conference crown in four years if the right pieces fall into place. In a nutshell, Cal must win its finale and the other two each need to lose once for the Bears to get a share of the title. 

So which games will Montgomery — and all Cal fans — be watching this week as the regular-season conference schedule ends?

— CAL: It starts — and could finish — with the Bears’ home finale on Wednesday against rival Stanford. Tipoff is 8 p.m. and the game will be aired on ESPN2. Stanford beat the Bears 69-59 back on Jan. 19, before Cal began its torrid streak of nine wins in 10 games. If the Bears can avenge that loss, they’ve done their part.

— OREGON: Has two road games left, and Thursday’s trip to Colorado provides Cal fans with their best hope the Ducks will lose. UO treks to 10th-place Utah on Saturday. CU is 11-2 at its mile-high home, although motivation could be less now that it no longer can climb into a top-4 finish.

— UCLA: Also hits the road, for games Wednesday at Washington State and Saturday morning at Washington. Can’t imagine the Bruins stumbling against the last-place Cougars, but an 11 a.m. tip against the erratic but still-capable Huskies could be a stumbling block. 

Tiebreaker scenarios: Here’s the good news — should the Bears finish in any combination of ties for the title, they would win the tiebreaker to earn the No. 1 seed into the Pac-12 tournament. All teams involved still would claim a share of the championship; the tiebreaker only impacts seeding for the conference tournament.

Cal would win a tiebreaker vs. Oregon by virtue of its 2-0 season sweep. The Bears split two games vs. UCLA, but would win the tiebreaker because the next step in the process is record vs. the next team in the standings, which would be Oregon. And Cal swept the Ducks.

Likewise, Cal would win a tiebreaker if all three teams finished at 13-5 because its combined 3-1 record against the other two is better than either the Ducks or Bruins can claim.

Jeff Faraudo

  • Rollonubears

    Jf, nobody celebrates a share of the title unless they win the tiebreaker. Same as football. If we win, and Colorado beats Oregon (they will be plenty motivated with tourney implications) and ucla stumbles, the only team celebrating a true championship will be the golden bears. I’m excited. Not for an 11 eastern game tho.

  • David

    Not true, Rollon. In basketball, there will be co-champs regardless of tiebreakers

  • ConcordBear

    All that matters is beating stanford.
    They beat us up on their court early this season and laughed at us in the process.
    We are a different team now though. This Bears team is getting better and better at playing defense every game. Our transition game is deadly. If we can continue to do those things well and start hitting some shots and rebounding a little better on the defensive end we will be a very good and dangerous team the rest of the way.

    Fired up for Wednesday, late 8pm start.

    Haas will be rocking. Our Bears have got to be excited for this one. So much to play for, every win gives us a better seed and match up in the NCAA tournament. I think our team can make a NCAA run the way they are playing and with still so much potential for even more from them.

    This team and the way things are coming together has that special magical feel…

    Love it!!!

  • ConcordBear

    Yesterdays win over Colorado was a really fun game at Haas.
    The fight, toughness and determination our guys played with was a joy to watch.
    The will to win is their, this team knows what it takes.

    A true team win, but I think it was a very impressive game for Allen Crabbe, he stood out to me. The guy had an NBA defender who was taller then him trying to take him out of the game. Yea he did not have a lot of points and yes he was in foul trouble but he stayed with it and did so many other things to help the team win.
    With the defense taking him away he moved the ball well and his team mates picked up the scoring, he rebounded, he stayed focused and tough under pressure D and fouls and played strong Defense. His passing in transition was outstanding.
    Love Crabbe’s game, when he is all in he is the best player in the Pac.

    If he can get his outside stroke going and do everything else he was doing yesterday to lead the team and elevate his mates game Cal is a scary match up.

    Bears are playing great but still have not played their best game.

    Hope they bust out Wednesday in the home finale and roll into the tournament season clicking in all phases.

    See you all at Haas Wednesday night. Or at the bar to lube up pre game.

    We owe our rival payback from the beat down they gave us. I’m hungry for a tree burning!

    Go Bears!

  • BlakeStreetBear

    This team is just the latest thrilling incarnation of Montyball! All of his teams at Cal have been a joy to watch for the most part. Hall of famer no doubt. GO Bears!

  • AKBear

    I will take this given where the Bears stood at the end of 2012. At that point, you could’ve predicted how the Pac-12 season was going to start.

    They also seem to have a bright future even if Crabbe leaves for the Association since the Bears should have a full complement on the bench next year with the incoming class and with some luck with the players sitting on the bench this year.

    One final note, if you watched K-State take the game yesterday from Baylor, that was Gary Franklin getting out late to contest the last second made three. That is the same former Bear who finished the K-State game with 0 points and 1 assist in 12 minutes. Meanwhile, the Bears’ Tyrone Wallace finishes game against Buffs with 16 points, 11 rebounds and an ESPN Top 5 highlight worthy dunk. Go Bears!

  • Tom S MV

    THrow down on the tREES . nO MERCY

  • rob bear

    Sat next to the Colorado faithful yesterday and as the second half became more and more evident of who the better team was, it got awfully quiet in this northern section of Haas.

    No one wants Cal to win at least a share of the title more than the CAL faithful and the scenarios above are very likely to happen. But I am sure that deep in the minds of the team, Monty and those of us that have followed them this year, game in, game out, we all have to be thinking about the games that Cal lost early in conference when they should have won. It kills me to say it, but I hope all of this energy and momentum does not end in a second / third place conference finish.


  • jabes

    It’s really remarkable how this team pulled together. We can see the play of Solomon, Cobbs and Crabbe. However, I think the most impressive/important players have been Kravish and Wallace.

    Wallace leads by example. He is a Freshman playing like an upper-classman every day. He avoids dumb fouls, doesn’t force his shot, takes enough open jumpers to keep D honest, etc.

    Kravish’s “coaching” I believe is the reason for Solomon’s turn-around. Plus, he has added all the dimensions we asked for–tougher in the paint scoring and rebounding, more consistent mid range jumper, even a little hook shot.