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Water polo: No. 3 Cal women into NCAA semis

Roser Tarrago scored two goals and the No. 3 Cal women’s water polo team beat Arizona State 7-4 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Los Angeles.

The Bears (20-8) advance to Saturday’s semifinal against top-seeded Stanford.

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Basketball: Bears won’t be NCAA team next season, according to Lunardi’s first projection

Whoever winds up coaching Cal in 2014-15 won’t take the Bears to the NCAA tournament, according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.

Lunardi’s first 2015 bracket projection includes six Pac-12 teams, but not Cal.

He has Arizona as a No. 1 seed, along with Wisconsin, Kansas and Michigan. The No. 2 seeds are Kentucky, Virginia, Duke and Villanova.

Other Pac-12 teams in his field are No. 8 seed Oregon, No. 9 Utah, No. 10 Colorado, No. 11 Stanford and No. 11 UCLA. Lunardi lists Colorado and Stanford among the last four teams in with a bye, and has UCLA playing in one of the “first four” games to enter the 64-team bracket.

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Women’s basketball: Bears ousted at Baylor

Outscored 41-23 in the second half, the Cal women (22-10) were eliminated from the NCAA tournament after a 75-56 loss to No. 2 seed Baylor (31-4) at Waco, Texas.

Afure Jemerigbe scored 17 points to lead the seventh-seeded Bears and Brittany Boyd had 15 points and seven assists.

All-America guard Odyssey Sims led Baylor with 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.

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Women’s basketball: Bears feeling confident

The Cal women, seeded No. 7 in the Notre Dame regional of the NCAA tournament, take on Fordham in their opener Saturday at Waco, Texas.

Junior point guard Brittany Boyd said the Bears (21-9) are ready for the challenge ahead.

“A lot of people got more confident,” Boyd said. “We’re still learning, but I think since the beginning of the season we’ve made a humongous leap.”

The game tips off at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.

Click here to read staff writer Stephanie Hammon’s full story.

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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.

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Basketball: What do the Bears need to achieve in Las Vegas to secure NCAA tournament spot?

Asked Saturday after Cal’s 66-65 overtime win over Colorado what the Bears need to get done at the Pac-12 tournament to assure themselves a spot in the NCAA field, senior Justin Cobbs acknowledged, “I wish I could tell you.”

Then he provided the only sure-thing road map to good news from the NCAA selection committee next Sunday.

“I’d be happy if we could win it,” he said. “Right now we’re playting with a lot of confidence. Just play every game like it’s your last.”

Now 19-12, 10-8 in the Pac-12 and owner of the No. 4 (and first-round bye in the conference tournament), the Bears won for just the second time in their past six games.

They were listed among the “first teams out” of the field in CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm’s Sunday projections.

Palm said he’s constantly asked this time of year, “How many conference tournament games do we have to win to get in?”

His answer: “All of them. That’s the only sure thing. Yes, fewer might do, but the only way to control your own destiny is to win them all. Otherwise, your team is at the mercy of what other teams do.”

The Bears got no help Sunday when another bubble team, Nebraska, scored a big road win over No. 9 Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers improved to 19-11 overall, 11-7 in the Big Ten with their eighth win in nine games.

So it’s not just what Cal does beginning Thursday in the Pac-12 quarterfinals. It’s how others fare also.

A lot of moving parts, and the Bears still need a bunch of them to fall into place.

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Basketball: Lunardi still giving Bears love

ESPN.com bracketologist Joe Lunardi continues to include slumping Cal in his NCAA tournament projection, although he now says the Bears among his last four teams with byes into the main 64-team bracket.

Lunardi projects Cal as a No. 10 seed, shuffling off to Buffalo to face No. 7 UMasas.

He has seven Pac-12 schools in the field, topped by No. 1 seed Arizona.

Also making the cut are No. 5 UCLA, No. 8 Arizona State, No. 10 Stanford, No. 10 Colorado and, in a first-four “play in” game, No. 12 Oregon.

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In the NCAA’s new official RPI computer rankings, Cal checks in at No. 53 — six spots lower than before losing at Arizona and Arizona State last week.

Arizona is No. 1, followed by UCLA at No. 19, ASU at No. 28, Colorado at No. 30, Oregon at No. 33 and Stanford at No. 42.

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Basketball: UCLA tips off big week for Bears

With three weeks left in the Pac-12 regular season, the possibilities for the Cal and Stanford men’s basketball teams seem to be growing, not shrinking.

For Cal (18-7, 8-4), tied for third with Arizona State after a road sweep in Washington, there suddenly is a path opening to the conference championship.

And for Stanford (16-8, 7-5), still residing in the upper division of a conference getting increased respect from the bracketology crowd, the road to its first NCAA tournament bid in six seasons has become less cluttered.

But it all starts this week with UCLA.

The 23rd-ranked Bruins (20-5, 9-3) visit Cal on Wednesday and Stanford on Saturday. UCLA was impressive in beating both Bay Area schools in Los Angeles a month ago, but has shown vulnerability on the road in losses at Utah and Oregon State.

If the Bears or Cardinal can hold serve at home, the race at the top tightens.

Cal’s win over then-unbeaten Arizona demonstrated the Bears can play with anyone in the Pac-12, when properly inspired. They should be plenty motivated against UCLA, given what’s at stake.

Click here to read the rest of my college basketball column.

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Basketball: Bears play way into Lunardi’s field

Five straight victories — three of them on the road to open the Pac-12 schedule — have elevated Cal into ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest NCAA tournament field.

Lunardi projects the Bears as a No. 10 seed and has them playing No. 7 Michigan in St. Louis.

Update: RealtimeRPI.com has boosted Cal to No. 29 in its latest rankings.

Cal is one of six Pac-12 schools Lunardi now envisions in the field, including Stanford, whom he projects playing in the play-in game against Minnesota for a No. 12 seed.

Others he sees in the bracket are Arizona at No. 1, Oregon at No. 6, Colorado at No. 6, UCLA at No. 8. Arizona State is listed as one of the first four out.