ESPN.com previews the Pac-10 Conference today, with Doug Gottlieb (brother of Cal assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb) picking the defending champion Golden Bears to finish sixth. There’s also a look at the league’s key players and best incoming freshmen.
Here’s the latest . . .
– BRACKET PROJECTIONS: ESPN.com bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Cal as a No. 7 seed in his mock bracket today. He has the Bears facing No. 10 Old Dominion in Oklahoma City (ugh), with Kansas State looming in the second round.
Lunardi has two Pac-10 teams in the field for the first time, with Arizona State as a No. 12, facing Maryland in San Jose. Washington is among the “first four out,” meanng the Huskies have some work to do.
Cal’s victory over Stanford — that’s four wins in a row and seven of eight for the Bears — has boosted it to No. 19 in the latest RealTimeRPI ratings.
Omar Samhan (Danville-San Ramon Valley HS) had 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, leading Saint Mary’s College (25-5) to a 69-55 win over Portland and into Monday’s championship game of the West Coast Conference tournament final against Gonzaga . . . Cory Higgins (Danville-Monte Vista HS) won Big 12 Conference Player of the Week honors after averaging 24.5 points in two victories.
With one day left in the Pac-10 regular season, here are the sorry RealtimeRPI.com ratings for the conference:
54. Arizona State
149. Washington State
174. Oregon State
Consider that No. 74 Sam Houston State (18-6) and No. 82 Indiana State (16-13) are ranked ahead of all but three Pac-10 teams and No. 99 Duquesne (14-14) is higher than six of them.
Lots going on today, so I’m a little late with this. But here goes . . .
BRACKETOLOGY: ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi still has Cal as the only Pac-10 team in the NCAA field. He projects the Bears as a No. 9 seed, matched against No. 8 Texas (Jamal Boykin, meet Damion James) at Jacksonville, Fla. This scenario would have the winner facing No. 1 Duke in the second round. A tough arrangement all around.
(My personal theory is most teams are better off being seeded No. 10 than No. 8. A No. 10 is probably only marginally inferior — if at all – -to the No. 7 team it will play. The No. 7 team beat No.10 in three of four matchups last year, although No. 7 was 15-5 the previous four years. Either way, the 7-10 winner isn’t rewarded by a matchup with No. 1, as the No. 8-9 winner is.)
Cal’s win over Arizona State boosted the Bears three spots to No. 21, according to RealTimeRPI.com. I believe that’s the Bears’ highest computer ranking of the season.
They remain 0-4 against top-50 RPI teams — No. 1 Kansas, No. 3 Syracuse, No. 7 New Mexico and No. 29 Ohio State. But they are now 5-2 against teams ranked No. 51 to 100, with wins over No. 54 ASU (twice), and No. 69 Murray State, along with splits vs. No. 56 Washington and No. 90 Arizona.
ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi must have a twisted sense of humor. Lunardi has Cal seeded No. 10 and playing No. 7 Maryland at Oklahoma City in his latest NCAA Tournament projections. You’ll remember it was the Terps who ended Cal’s season last year with an 84-79 ouster at the NCAAs in Kansas City, Mo.
The winner of the Cal-Maryland game would face either Kansas State or North Texas in the second round.
Lunardi has Saint Mary’s College as one of his “last four in” for the second straight week, projecting the Gaels as a No. 12 to face Temple in Spokane, Wash. MONDAY NIGHT UPDATE: After UConn’s victory over West Virginia, Lunardi posted an updated bracket that squeezes the Gaels out of the field. For now, anyway, he projects them as his first team out.
Lunardi has Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Purdue as his No. 1 seeds.
Here is ESPN.com’s full projected bracket.
Jerry Palm on CollegeRPI.com projects Cal as a No. 13 to face Vanderbilt at Spokane, with the winner to play Michigan State or Marquette in the second round. Click here to access Palm’s bracket, then click on bracket in the left-hand pull-down box.
THE POLLS: No Pac-10 teams in either of the top-25 polls. Are we surprised?
Cal’s two wins last week have prompted ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi to boost the Bears up to a No. 8 seeding in this week’s NCAA Tournament bracket projection.
Lunardi has the Bears facing No. 9 UTEP in Milwaukee with a second-round matchup vs. Kentucky looming.
Cal remains the only Pac-10 team to earn a spot in ESPN.com’s projected bracket.
Saint Mary’s is one of Lunardi’s “last four in,” a No. 12 seed facing Temple in Spokane, Wash.
Syracuse retains one of the four No. 1 seeds despite its loss Sunday to Louisville. The other No. 1 seeds are Kansas, Kentucky and Villanova.
Here’s a link to Lunardi’s latest bracket projection.
Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com isn’t quite as generous in his bracket, awarding the Bears a No. 12 seed, and projecting them to face Pitt in Spokane. That would set up a potential second-round game with home-town favorite Gonzaga.
COMPUTER RATINGS: Cal is No. 24 in today’s CollegeRPI.com computer ratings. The rest of the Pac-10: 52. Washington; 64. ASU; 84. USC; 86. Arizona; 119. WSU; 134. UCLA; 158. Oregon; 164. Stanford; 185. OSU. Saint Mary’s is No. 44.
The Bears also are No. 24 in the official NCAA version of the RPI.
Cal is No. 31 in the latest Sagarin computer ratings.
TOP-25 POLLS: Still no Pac-10 team in either of AP writers top-25 or the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, although Cal did garner six votes from the coaches. Here are both polls.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN.com’s resident “bracketologist,” has just one Pac-10 in his projected NCAA Tournament field this week — and it’s Cal.
Lunardi has the Bears as a No. 10 seed, playing No. 7 UNLV at Milwaukee, with the winner facing either No. 2 Michigan State or Sam Houston in the second round.
Saint Mary’s is a No. 9 seed, matched against No. 8 Cornell at Providence, R.I., with the winner advancing to play either Villanova or Stony Brook.
The top seeds, according to Lunardi, will be Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky and Villanova.
THE COMPUTER POLLS: Cal checks in at No. 26 in today’s official NCAA RPI computer poll, down two spots from a week ago. Three teams that have beaten the Bears — Kansas, Syracuse and New Mexico — are in the top 10. Bad news for Saint Mary’s, which walloped Santa Clara and USF, but dropped 10 spots from No. 35 to 45.
The rest of the Pac-10 in the RPI: 55. Washington; 67. Arizona; 77. ASU; 80. USC; 106. WSU; 136. UCLA; 146. Oregon; 155. Stanford. 195. OSU.
Cal is No. 35 in the Sagarin computer poll, with Saint Mary’s at No. 32. The rest of the Pac-10: 52. Washington; 53. ASU; 73. USC; 76. Arizona; 94. WSU; 114. Oregon; 117. Stanford; 125. UCLA; 151. OSU.
TOP-25 POLLS: You won’t be real surprised to learn there are still no Pac-10 teams ranked in either the AP writers poll or the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. You can click here to view both of them. Kansas is No. 1 in both, with Syracuse No. 2 according to AP, Kentucky No. 2 in the coaches poll.
The Golden Bears (15-8) are No. 26 in today’s RealTimeRPI.com computer ratings — the highest-rated team with as many as eight defeats.
The reason? Their No. 4 strength-of-schedule.
Here’s how some of the teams that Cal played prior to the Pac-10 have fared:
– Kansas is 22-1, ranked No. 1 in the RPI, and unbeaten and alone in first place in the Big 12.
– Syracuse is 23-1, ranked No. 2 in the RPI and in first place in the Big East.
– New Mexico is 21-3, ranked No. 10 in the RPI and tied for first in the Mountain West Conference.
– Ohio State is 18-6, No. 35 in the RPI and tied for second in the Big Ten.
– Murray State is 22-3 overall and first in the Ohio Valley Conference at 13-0.
– Pacific is in first place in the Big West at 8-2.
– UC Santa Barbara is second in the Big West, one-half game back at 8-3.