Basketball: How many wins do Bears need?

Don’t expect any enlightenment from Mike Montgomery by asking how his Golden Bears fit into the NCAA tournament selection picture.

“It doesn’t make any difference what I think,” he said this week. “If I was sitting in the room and drawing brackets, `Cal’s in.’ I’m not in the room. Everybody’s going to have a different opinion.

“There’s a lot of (Pac-12) teams capable of being representative in the NCAA tournament and we’re certainly among them.”

But how close — or how far — are the 19-12 Bears to hearing their name called on Selection Sunday as they enter the Pac-12 tournament as a No. 4 seed?

What do they have to achieve, beginning Thursday when they face Colorado or USC in the semifinals at the MGM Grand Garden Arena?

This much we can be fairly sure of: Cal had better win at least once this week.

Quite possibly, the Bears need a pair of wins. That would get them into the Pac-12 tournament championship game, and require a second victory over regular-season champ Arizona in the Friday semifinals.

It’s a numbers game. There are 68 spots available, and 32 of them go to conference tournament champions as automatic bids.

Nine of those leagues, according to ESPN.com. have “locks” on 34 spots. Add to that 23 other champions and 57 tournament bids are accounted for.

That leaves 11 spots coveted by at least 19 legitimate “bubble” contenders.

And that’s if no crazy underdog steals an automatic bid in one the nine leagues we already know will get multiple berths.

If you’re hoping Cal will get one of those spots, here’s a list of “bubble” contenders to watch this week (with their official RPI ranking from Monday’s NCAA website in parenthesis):

— Atlantic-10: Dayton (39), St. Joseph’s (42)
— ACC: Pittsburgh (46), Florida State (59)
— Big 12: None
— Big East: Xavier (48), Providence (53), Georgetown (54), St. John’s (57)
— Big Ten: Nebraska (41), Minnesota (51)
— Mountain West: None
— Pac-12: Colorado (31), Arizona State (37), Stanford (43), Cal (55)
— SEC: Tennessee (44), Arkansas (62)
— Others: BYU (33), Southern Miss (35), Louisiana Tech (70)

Jeff Faraudo

  • Rollonubears

    arizona is guaranteed to play us if we win? this is the pac12 tourney. anything can happen.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Just win baby.
    (not a Raiders fan, but the phrase is certainly applicable.)

  • GoBears49

    I think RPI means a lot, but is not everything. Based upon that, by itself, Cal’s RPI #15 of the 19 slots available, which is higher than the 11 spots available. With one win, Cal could possibly pass three teams with just slightly lower RPI’s and get to #12. Just a joke, but if Cal’s too high RPI proves to be its undoing, we could call it Cal’s RIP.