So now what?
A win over Utah wouldn’t have boosted Cal’s seeding for the NCAA tournament, but certainly would have solidified the Bears’ place in the field.
Make no mistake: This was their worst one all season. The Utes were No. 168, according to RealTimeRPI.com, on Thursday morning.
Still, Cal probably survives it.
The Bears entered play Thursday with a No. 49 RPI and were considered a “lock” in ESPN.com’s “Bubble Watch.”
Bracketologist Joe Lunardi, who doesn’t know everything but knows more than most of us, had Cal projected as a No. 9 seed, matched against Illinois in Philadelphia. Later, Lunardi tweeted that the Bears’ loss “inches them toward Dayton (again).”
I’m guessing the Bears will drop to a No. 10, perhaps even a No. 11 seed — but they will get into the tournament.
– Help from Oregon: The Ducks’ 80-77 overtime win over Washington in Thursday’s late quarterfinal was good news for Cal. A win by the Huskies would have given them a shot at Utah — playing its third game in three days — and a chance to play for the title on Saturday. I don’t see Utah stealing the automatic bid, but UW … maybe.
– Hot & cold defense: Cal allowed the Utes to make 8 of their first 9 shots to open Thursday’s game. Then, early in the second half, the Bears held Utah scoreless on nine consecutive possessions. But the Utes were nearly perfect in overtime: 3 for 3 from the field and 13 for 16 from the FT line.
– Rough game for a freshman: Tyrone Wallace has been a lifesaver for the depth-starved Bears, but he struggled against Utah, shooting 1 for 8 with three turnovers in 26 minutes.
– Bad numbers: Cal outrebounded the Utes 40-30 (Richard Solomon had 11), including 15 offensive boards. But the Bears cashed those second-chance opportunities into just 11 points. … The Bears had six assists in 45 minutes, only one by anyone other than Justin Cobbs. … Cal shot 4 for 12 in overtime.