Two weeks ago this morning, as the Bears prepared to play at Arizona, they were sitting at No. 75 in the RPI computer rankings.
This morning, having won five in a row since then, they are No. 40.
Cal has three regular-season games remaining, all at home:
— Thursday vs. RPI 177 Utah
— Saturday vs. RPI 29 Colorado
— Wednesday, March 6 vs. RPI 67 Stanford
Cal could lose any of these, but also could sweep. They probably need two to assure themselves of an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
They’d do themselves a big favor by making it the next two — Utah and Colorado.
Indiana is the preseason No. 1 in the AP Top-25 poll that has only two representatives from the Pac-12 Conference.
Arizona checks in at No. 12, with UCLA one spot behind. The Bruins’ prospect depend on the eligibility of two elite freshmen, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, neither of whom is yet cleared by the NCAA to play.
Cal plays two non-conference games against teams ranked in the preseason poll: Dec. 2 at No. 23 Wisconson, and Dec. 9 at home vs. No. 18 UNLV.
Here’s the poll.
What do you imagine Oregon feels like it has to do Saturday against Colorado to impress the BCS computer after the Ducks fell from No. 3 to 4 in this week’s ratings?
How about a 70-0 win?
Think that’s far-fetched? The system has basically encouraged them to do just that.
All Oregon did this past week was roll up a 43-7 lead over Arizona State barely 3 1/2 minutes into the second quarter. Yet, the Ducks fell behind Kansas State in the latest BCS rankings, after the Wildcats routed West Virginia.
It was really no problem for the Ducks when Alabama and Florida both debuted ahead of Oregon in the BCS rankings because one of the two SEC schools eventually has to lose. Now there’s another variable involved. Now Oregon’s path to the national championship game is more complicated.
Of course, all this could have been avoided except that K-State backed out of a once-scheduled game this season against Oregon.
Here’s Oregon’s remaining regular-season schedule: vs. Colorado, at USC, at Cal, vs. Stanford, at Oregon State.
Here’s K-State’s remaining regular-season schedule: vs. Texas Tech, vs. Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, vs. Texas.
The Cal women’s basketball team, with most of its roster intact from a 25-10 season a year ago, is ranked No. 14 in preseason polls released by Lindy’s and Athlon Sports.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott defended USC coach Lane Kiffin’s decision to drop his vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
“I think it’s an unfair position to put the coaches in, to supposedly vote objectively when they’ve got a very natural conflict of interest, No. 1, and, No. 2, I think most coaches are focused on their own games — let alone breaking down tape afterwards and all that,” Scott said.
“So to expect that coaches could have a good, balanced, well-researched perspective on who the best teams are in any given week is a fallacy.”
Elsewhere . . .
— New UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr., unhappy with his team, kicked his players out of practice Wednesday.
— USC freshman defensive end DeVante Wilson has torn the ACL of his left knee, will undergo surgery and is out for the season.
USC was a clear choice Tuesday morning to win the Pac-12 football championship in a poll of 123 media members who cover the conference.
The Trojans received 117 first-place ballots to easily outdistance Utah for the South division crown. Oregon also collected 117 first-place votes to top the North division.
USC received 102 votes to win the Pac-12 title game, with Oregon earning 18 votes and Arizona State, in a surprise, drawing three votes.
Stanford was placed first on five ballots and wound up second in the Pac-12 North, ahead of Washington. Cal got one first-place vote and finished fourth in the Pac-12 North.
PAC-12 MEDIA POLL
Results of the annual media poll, with first-place votes in parenthesis and total points:
1. Oregon (117) 732
2. Stanford (5) 533
3. Washington 502
4. Cal (1) 382
5. Washington State 228
6. Oregon State 205
1. USC (117) 729
2. Utah (1) 514
3. UCLA (2) 435
4. Arizona 385
5. Arizona State (3) 353
6. Colorado 164
Pac-12 championship game winner: USC 102, Oregon 18, Arizona State 3.
Home wins over Oregon and Oregon State elevated the Bears to No. 29 in the latest NCAA official RPI rankings. Cal was No. 36 at this time last week.
No other Pac-12 teams is among the top 50. Washington, tied with Cal for first place in the conference standings, is No. 54, just ahead of Oregon at No. 55.
Utah, Cal’s Thursday opponent, is No. 275 — the worst of three Pac-12 teams mired in the 200s.
Meanwhile . . .
— Still no Pac-12 team in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, but Cal has moved to third among others receiving votes, meaning they are No. 28. The Bears are eighth among others who got votes in the AP Top-25.
— No significant changes in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s newest NCAA tournament projections. He still has Cal as a No. 9 seed playing Southern Miss in Omaha, with the chance to take on top-seeded Missouri in the second round. Washington is a No. 11 seed, Arizona a No. 12. Oregon is listed among the first four teams out.
Two wins in Southern California lifted the Golden Bears (20-6, 10-3 Pac-12) from No. 48 to No. 36 in the latest official NCAA RPI rankings.
Washington is the next highest-rated Pac-12 Conference team at No. 62. Arizona checks in No. 66, followed one spot later by Oregon. Colorado is No. 74.
Stanford, which has dropped five of its past seven games, plummeted to No. 105.
Then it gets truly grim for the Pac-12: UCLA is No. 124, Oregon State No. 143, Washington State No. 150, Arizona State No. 229, USC No. 230 and Utah No. 274.
Cal’s win over Stanford has elevated the Bears to No. 30 in Monday’s edition of the official NCAA RPI computer rankings.
Washington is the next conference team in the RPI ratings at No. 72 — a bad sign for NCAA tournament at-large wannabes from the Pac-12. Oregon is No. 74, Arizona No. 85, Stanford No. 86. Ouch.
Oregon State is No. 122, UCLA No. 134 and Washington State No. 145.
Saint Mary’s checks in at No. 20, one spot ahead of WCC rival Gonzaga.
Elsewhere . . .
— Cal is projected as a No. 9 seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest NCAA tournment “bracketology.” He has Cal plugged in to play No. 8 Harvard in a first-round game at Louisville, with No. 1 Kentucky awaiting in round two. UW only other Pac-12 team — and Huskies are in a No. 12 play-in game. Saint Mary’s is seeded No. 5.
— Cal gets two votes in the coaches poll (the only two any Pac-12 team gets), but no one from the Pac to be found in “others receiving votes” at bottom of AP Top-25. Saint Mary’s climbs to No. 16 in coaches poll, No. 18 in AP.
— Oregon State junior guard Jared Cunningham (San Leandro HS) is the Pac-12 player of the week after scoring 27 points in the Beavers’ win at Oregon. Cal, tied for first in the conference, is 0-for-12 in the weekly conference award department.
Cal is No. 35 in Monday morning’s official NCAA RPI listings — the only Pac-12 team in the top 60.
Here’s where Pac-12 schools rate:
127. Washington State
138. Oregon State
226. Arizona State