Big night in Pac-10 basketball last night, as the postseason implications for both the men and the women got a bit clearer. First, the men:
Crushing second half last night at UCLA, especially after the inspired first half. Caught the first half on the radio before I had to leave, which was apparently about the same time the Bears decided to take off for the night. I know the team has been prone to fading in the second half (there’s that lack of depth again), but I was still shocked at how far (and how fast) they fell behind after intermission.
Anyway, this loss was expected. The real Pac-10 shockers took place in the state of Oregon, where Oregon righted its floundering season by taking down Wazzu, while Washington killed its NCAA dreams once and for all by falling at Oregon State. Besides solidifying their standing regarding the tourney (Oregon: in. UDub: not so much), Pac-10 tournament seeding starts coming into focus. UCLA has now all but wrapped up the top spot, while Wazzu has given USC hope of grabbing the second seed. On the other end of the spectrum, Washington’s loss leaves it in a 7th-place tie with Cal but with a tougher road ahead (@ Oregon, USC, UCLA). If they can’t win any of those games (and I’m not sure that they can), all Cal has to do to avoid the dreaded 8th spot in the tournament is beat Arizona State. If the Bears hope to make a tournament run for a last-ditch NCAA bid, avoiding running into UCLA will be key (not that Wazzu or USC would be any picnic as the second seed).
The women, on the other hand, came up with a gutty overtime win over USC last night to clinch the third spot in the Pac-10s and, more importantly, all but punch their NCAA dance card. I’m proud of these girls: we could talking about how injuries ruined a promising season (as we are with the men’s team), but instead, we’re talking about a 20-win season and a second straight NCAA tournament appearance. Good stuff.
The Pac-10 tournament could still be interesting, however. ASU in a potential second-round matchup is a tough cookie, as Cal hasn’t managed much against them in either meeting this year, but if the Bears can reach the finals, just imagine this scenario: Cal v. Stanford in San Jose for the tournament title. How much fun would that be?