Basketball: A few things to consider before filling out your NCAA tournament bracket

A few more NCAA tournament bracket tips to consider before entering your office pool:

First of all, do not fret when you get one wrong. Nobody’s perfect, and that especially holds true for picking the NCAA tournament. The folks in Las Vegas have calculated there are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible bracket combinations (9.2 quintillion), which means you’re going to miss a few.

Unbeaten Kentucky is everyone’s favorite and is listed by oddsmakers as a 1:1 choice to win the national title. That creates a problem when filling out your bracket: If you go with Ashley Judd’s favorite team, you don’t separate yourself from the crowd. If you go any other direction, you do so at your own risk.

My suggestion, fill out two brackets: One with UK on the final line and the other with someone else.

If Kentucky does wind winning the title, the person who fared best on games not involving the Wildcats will win your pool.

A general rule of thumb: Be bold, but not crazy.

All four No. 1 seeds will not reach the Final Four. But don’t expect all of them to lose on the first weekend because they don’t. Eighty-eight percent of top seeds, in fact, advance to the second weekend. So if you want to pick a few upsets, avoid derailing any of the No. 1 seeds until the second week.

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Basketball: Bears decline offer to play in CBI


A Cal spokesman said the Bears have declined an offer to play in the College Basketball Invitational.

See below for coach Cuonzo Martin’s statement on the decision.

The Bears (18-15) were long ago ousted from contention for an NCAA tournament bid, and were not close to gaining a spot in the 32-team National Invitation Tournament.

But interim athletic director Michael Williams said last week the Bears would consider the 16-team CBI, if an offer came. It apparently did, and they said no thanks.

Teams must pay the CBI a fee for hosting games in the event, although it’s unclear if and how much that was a factor in the school’s decision.

Cal started the season 10-1 under Martin, then went 7-11 in Pac-12 play. The Bears dropped six of their final eight games and will miss the postseason for the first time since 2007.

Cal was aced out of the NIT field by 12 schools given automatic bids after winning their regular-season conference titles, then losing in the league tournament. Five of those teams had worse RPI computer ratings than Cal at No. 95.


Cuonzo Martin statement on CBI decision:

“Our goal for The University of California’s men’s basketball program is to be the best and compete for an NCAA Championship. We made a decision to not pursue an invitation to the CBI and will focus our efforts on recruiting and developing our roster in preparation for a strong future here in Berkeley.

“I want to thank our seniors for everything they have given to this program throughout their careers. I also want to thank our fans for their incredible passion and the exceptional support they provide for our team. We truly felt their support all season and look forward to that continued enthusiasm next year as we unveil $10 million in improvements to Haas Pavilion courtesy of the generous gift from the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.”


Pac-12 basketball: No definitive answer, but AD Williams says he’d like to watch Bears play more games

Interim athletic director Michael Williams would not commit to Cal definitely accepting a potential bid from the College Basketball Invitational, but added he would like to watch coach Cuonzo Martin’s team play a few more games.

Hours after the Bears were eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament with a 73-51 loss to top-seeded Arizona on Thursday, Williams said he has not heard from either the National Invitation Tournament or the CBI.

At 18-15 with a computer power rating of No. 99 as of Thursday morning, Cal likely doesn’t have the resume for an invite to the 32-team NIT. A mock NIT bracket produced Thursday by Bleacher Report projected Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona State in the field, along with Saint Mary’s. But not Cal.

The CBI invites 16 teams after the NIT fills its field, but the opportunity comes with a pricetag. Schools must pay fees for each home game they play in the event. In past years, those fees have been $35,000 for a first-round game, $50,000 for quarterfinals, and $75,000 per game for the semifinals and each of the best-of-three championship series.

So while the decision requires some thought, Williams also said, “It’s also not something we would automatically say no to.”

Bids for the NCAA, NIT and CBI tournaments go out Sunday.

“We have not heard from anyone yet. We have just had the normal business contact with the NIT and the CBI,” Williams said. “So we’ll wait and find out on Sunday. I think we’d want to have that conversation.”

Martin praised the efforts of the Bears, who routed Washington State 84-59 in Tuesday’s tournament opener, then stayed close to Arizona for a half before fading.

“Right now I’m just excited about what Cuonzo has done with this team. I’m enjoying watching this team play,” Williams said. “It’d be fun to watch them play a few more games together.

“I’m really not prepared to have David (Kravish) play his last game in a Cal uniform quite yet.”


Pac-12 basketball: Arizona game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 73, Cal 51. The Bears were dominated much of the second half and fall to 18-15 on the season. The NIT or, more likely, the College Basketball Invitational, awaits them. Wallace had 19 points. Kravish had 12 rebounds. But Kravish and Jordan Mathews, who combined for 44 points the day before against WSU, totaled just nine on combined 4 for 20 shooting.

7:56 2nd H: Arizona 55, Cal 45. The Cats threatened to put this away, but Cal continues to answer. Bird’s 3-pointer countered one moments earlier by Gabe York and the margin remains 10 points. Cal still winning on the boards, but has 13 turnovers. Wallace has 15 points and Bird has 10. Kravish with 10 rebounds. Johnson leads Arizona with 14 and Ashley has 13.

17:14 2nd H: Arizona 42, Cal 32. A 3-pointer by Stanley Johnson — what can’t he do? — and a fastbreak dunk by Hollis-Jefferson off a careless Cal turnover, and a five-point lead is doubled in the span of 26 seconds. Cal is good in transition. Arizona is scary.

HALFTIME: Arizona 33, Cal 27. There are two ways of looking at this. First, Cal trailed 48-27 at halftime against the Wildcats one week ago today. So this is encouraging for the Bears. They battled and actually outrebounded Arizona 21-19. But the final 2 minutes could have gone better for Cal. With his team down just 30-27, Wallace missed the second of two FTs (Cal was 5 for 8 in the half), and 6-8 Brandon Ashley got isolated down low against 6-3 Jordan Mathews, made the layup, drew the foul and converted the FT for a six-point play. Sam Singer then missed an off-balance jumper and Kravish missed from a couple feet beyond his usual comfort zone. Cal down just six despite shooting 33 percent (10 for 30). Arizona made 47.6 percent (14 for 30). Wallace leads Cal with nine points. Johnson and Ashley each have nine for the Cats.

7:57 1st H: Arizona 21, Cal 17. The Bears are hanging in there. Arizona stretched out to an 18-12 lead with a 10-0 run,  but Cal answered back, including two baskets by Bird. Cal shooting just 35 percent (7 for 20), but has a 14-12 rebounding edge. Wallace has seven points for Cal.

11:48 1st H: Arizona 15, Cal 12. The Bears led 12-8 after a short hook by Kravish and a breakaway dunk by Wallace. But the Cats are coming strong. They have run off 7 straight points, including a monster driving dunk by Hollis-Jefferson. He tried to do the same thing on the next trip down and Bird, attempting to block it, was hit in the face and went to the bench for attention. Crowd is warming up and Cal needs to stem this now or face the consequences. (Bird is back in the lineup).

15:59 1st H: Cal 8, Arizona 6. Three-pointers by Wallace and Mathews helped the Bears overcome three turnovers on their first four possessions. Cal shooting 3 for 6 FG, 2 for 4 from 3-pt. Arizona is 3 for 7.


We’ll give this a try again today after massive internet connection issues Tuesday at the MGM Grand derailed my best efforts.

The top-seeded Arizona team just took the court and the crowd response made it feel like we’re at McKale Center in Tucson. Cal fans are here, but they are greatly outnumbered.

There are so many UofA fans in Vegas that the betting line on this game moved from 16 points to 19 overnight. For all I know, it may still be moving,

Cal (18-14), coming off its 84-59 thrashing of Washington State, will have it hands full in this quarterfinal matchup vs. the Cats. Arizona (28-3) beat the Bears by 39 points one week ago today, and also topped Cal by 23 in Berkeley this season.

But a couple things to consider:

– The No. 1 seed has not won the Pac-12 tournament since 2008, when UCLA did it.

– This one is hard to believe, but Arizona has not won the conference tournament since 2002. Four times since then, the Wildcats have failed to win it as the top seed.

None of that is likely to help Cal and this Arizona team is on a roll, having scored 82 points or more in six of its past eight games.




Cal: David Kravish, Dwight Tarwater, Jordan Mathews, Jabari Bird, Tyrone Wallace.

Arizona: Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell.


Football: Brennan Scarlett statement

Here is a statement from Brennan Scarlett, explaining his decision to transfer to play his senior football season at Stanford:

I have made many great memories here at Cal, with secial thanks to my brothers with whom I have had the pleasure to share my blood, sweat and tears. It is a brotherhood unlike anything else I have been a part of, and I am very thankful to them all. In addition, I would like to thank the Cal football staff: coaches, academic advisors, trainers, and doctors. I also would like to thank the Walter A. Haas School of Business and all of the professors and counselors. All of these people have been a fundamental part of my amazing experience at Cal, as I have always been supported both athletically and academically. Overall, I would like to thank the University of California, Berkeley community as a whole for four incredible years. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have attended and to graduate from such an amazing institution.

As has been reported, I am leaving Cal following my graduation from the Haas School of Business in May. I have been accepted into the Stanford University Master’s of Management Science and Engineering program and I am intending to begin in the autumn quarter of 2015. This is a tremendous opportunity that I am very proud to have, as it is in alignment with my career goals and academic interests. It is a one year program that does not require prior work experience and allows me to potentially complete before I begin my life-long dream of playing in the National Football League. In addition, I also intend to play my last year of eligibility for the Stanford football program. Interestingly enough my brother, Cameron Scarlett, will also be attending Stanford as a freshman this Fall. This makes my intentions family-oriented as well, but the motivation is mainly educational and career-based. It is a unique fit that allows me to pursue my aspirations in the two equally important aspects of my life, football and academics.

I am not oblivious to the fact that my decision may not be taken very graciously by all. Regardless of the response to my decision, whether positive or negative, I believe it shows the passion that flows throughout the Cal community. It is a passion that I appreciate and will carry with me through my life journey.

Good luck to the squad. Thanks for the memories.

Much Love,
Brennan Scarlett


Pac-12 basketball: Cal demolishes WSU


David Kravish missed his first six shots against Washington State, but rarely missed again as Cal posted a decisive 84-59 victory in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday.

Kravish scored a career-high 25 points and the No. 8 seeded Bears (18-14) won for just the second time in the past six games. It was their first victory in three tries since the Pac-12 event was moved to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“It does a lot for our confidence,” said guard Jabari Bird “We’ve just to go carry it over to the next game.”

That will be Thursday’s 12:10 p.m. quarterfinal game against regular-season champion Arizona (28-3). The nation’s fifth-ranked team, the Wildcats beat Cal twice this season, including by 39 points a week ago in Tucson.

The rematch looks like a mismatch and Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean conceded Cal must play almost a perfect game to upset the Wildcats. But he added, “I think for Cal, if they can duplicate what they did today and be as sharp as they were, they have a chance.”

Kravish made 10 of 11 shots after his early misfirings, and had six field goals during an 11-minute stretch spanning the two halves in which the Bears shot 14 of 15. He scored the go-ahead basket for a 17-16 lead with 7:31 left in the half, and the Bears were in command at 47-30 when Christian Behrens converted a layup with 16:15 left in the game.

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Pac-12 basketball: WSU game thread

NOTE: Internet issues at the MGM during the game. My apologies. My early game story posted elsewhere on BearTalk.


I’m here at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament, which tips off at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday with No. 8 seed Cal (17-14, 7-11) facing No. 9 Washington State (13-17, 7-11).

The Cal-WSU winner advances to a Thursday quarterfinal against regular-season champion Arizona (28-3, 16-1), the nation’s fifth-ranked team. That game also will be played at 12:10 p.m.

The rest of today’s schedule:

– No. 5 Arizona State vs. No. 12 USC, 2:40 p.m.

– No. 7 Oregon State vs. No. 10 Colorado, 6:10 p.m.

– No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 11 Washington, 8:40 p.m.

All of today’s games will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

A note regarding Thursday’s games: All fans, including those who do not get the Pac-12 Networks, will have free access to viewing the first three quarterfinals via Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app. Those games include Arizona (possibly vs. Cal), UCLA and Oregon. The fourth quarterfinal, featuring Utah (possibly vs. Stanford), will be carried on ESPN.


Basketball: Cal, WSU meet for third time

* Cal vs. Washington State, Wednesday, 12:10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

By this time of year, conference rivals know each other well.

When Cal (17-14, 7-11) faces Washington State (13-17, 7-11) collide Wednesday in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, it will be their third matchup of the season.

Each team has won one of the previous meetings, and their coaches know why.

Cuonzo Martin recalls how WSU’s big-man duo of Josh Hawkinson and Jordan Railey combined for 35 points and 17 rebounds in the Cougars’ 69-66 win at Berkeley on Jan. 4.

WSU coach Ernie Kent said the difference in Cal’s 76-67 win at Pullman on Jan. 29 was simple: Jabari Bird.

Bird was injured and did not play in the first meeting, but his presence – and his 12 points and eight rebounds – gave Cal an edge in the rematch by freeing Tyrone Wallace from double-team tactics. Wallace responded by scoring 26 points on 10-for-17 shooting.

“We had no answers for the second time we saw him. A lot of that had to do with Jabari being on the floor,” Kent said. “We’ve got to figure some things out to get him slowed down.”

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Football: AD says Cal won’t block Scarlett’s transfer

Cal will not stand in Brennan Scarlett’s way of transferring to play his senior football season at rival Stanford, interim athletic director Michael Williams said Tuesday.

“Cal athletics will support Brennan’s request,” Williams wrote in an email reply to questions from this newspaper.

The day after Cal football coach Sonny Dykes tersely confirmed that Scarlett will transfer, Williams took a different tone, offering the defensive end best wishes at his next stop.

Scarlett is expected to wind up at rival Stanford, where his brother, running back Cameron Scarlett, will be a freshman next fall.

Because Scarlett is graduating with a year of football eligibility remaining, he could play immediately at his next school. But he still will need Cal to sign a waiver, allowing him to make an intra-conference transfer.

Williams said the athletic department will grant Scarlett that waiver.

“Brennan Scarlett will be completing his degree and graduating from the Haas School of Business this spring,” Williams said. “We are proud of his efforts in the classroom and on the field (especially having to battle back from the injuries he sustained during his playing career).

“Brennan is a young man with tremendous character and has represented our program well. We understand he has chosen to pursue his master’s degree at another university and play his final year of eligibility alongside his younger brother.”

Dykes was a bit less gracious Monday after the team’s first spring practice. Asked about Scarlett, who has been plagued by injury the past couple seasons, Dykes said, “Gone.”

Pressed on whether Cal would sign a waiver to release him to Stanford, Dykes added, “Don’t know anything about it. Don’t care. Don’t know.”

Williams said he appreciates why Scarlett would want to make the move, even to Cal’s longtime rival.

“We, too, value the importance of family and understand that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for him to compete on the same team with his brother,” Williams said. “Brennan has a bright future ahead of him and we wish him the best in his new endeavor.”