The Pac-10 standings are a mess and the Golden Bears’ confidence has to be turned inside out after a 66-63 loss at USC, but the computer still gives Cal an edge over the rest of the conference.
Whether that gives the Bears a realistic path to the NCAA Tournament is entirely up to them.
RealtimeRPI.com had Cal rated No. 25 nationally entering Thursday, and the Bears slipped just two spots to No. 27 after their collapse at the Galen Center. The Bears benefit from a No. 4 strength-of-schedule, which gives them a higher RPI rating than any team in the nation with eight defeats.
A closer look shows Cal is 0-4 against RPI teams in the top-50, and just 3-8 vs. the top-100.
Still, no one else in the Pac-10 is among the top-50.
Arizona, which remains tied for first with Cal, ASU and UCLA after losing at Washington, is next at No. 57.
Washington, which is tied with USC for fifth place at 5-5, is No. 60.
Arizona State, which won at WSU to climb into the four-way tie for first, is No. 76.
USC is No. 85.
And UCLA, perhaps the league’s hottest team with four wins in its past five games, is No. 123 — one spot behind San Jose State.
The RPI, just one of many criteria the NCAA Tournament selection committee employs, will only work in the Bears’ favor if they turn things around and can string together some victories.
But the computer rankings bode very badly for the rest of the Pac-10, which is doing all it can to achieve the unthinkable and become a one-bid league to the NCAAs for the first time since 1977-78 — 32 years ago!