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)