Both California and Stanford had huge opportunities on Thursday to make noise in the Pac-12 Tournament, while also catching the eyes of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee in some fashion. But the Golden Bears and the Cardinal both took it on the chin from ranked conference opponents, losing badly in the spotlight. Thus, the two Bay Area schools will now wait for bids to the National Invitation Tournament early next week.
It was a good day for the Bay Area in Las Vegas, as both the California and Stanford men’s basketball teams scored wins in the first round of their conference tournament. Cal beat Washington State, and Stanford beat Washington. Both teams will play again on Thursday in Sin City—this time against better competition.
The task is straightforward but not simple: The Stanford men’s basketball team has to win two games in the Pac-12 Tournament in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal put themselves in this position by losing seven of their last 10 games.
Both the California Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinal lost their second matchup in three days with Arizona schools in Pac-12 play, and now it’s unlikely either team will make the NCAA Tournament—barring a miraculous run in the upcoming Pac-12 conference tournament.
The Stanford Cardinal are firmly on the NCAA bubble, and they didn’t help themselves at all on Thursday night by losing to middling Pac-12 Arizona State on the road. Now Stanford absolutely must beat the Arizona Wildcats, ranked No. 5 in the country, on Saturday night if they want to make it to March Madness.
It’s a down year for the Pac-12 in men’s basketball, as the conference is the “worst” of the Big Five this year, and when you throw in the basketball-only Big East Conference, the Pac-12 looks even worse in league comparisons. That hurts a borderline NCAA Tournament team like Stanford and absolutely pains a long-shot squad like Cal.
Reshanda Gray scored 19 points and sparked a big run in the second half before leaving with a leg injury in No. 7 California’s 71-54 win over Utah on Sunday.