By Sam McPherson

If the California Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball teams were looking to end the Pac-12 regular season on a high note, both teams failed miserably this week. In fact, both Cal and Stanford lost again on Saturday resulting in sweeps at the hands of the Arizona schools.

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On Thursday, the Bears lost to Arizona, and on Saturday, it was Arizona State beating Cal, 74-70. The Cardinal didn’t fare better, losing to the Sun Devils on Thursday and the Wildcats on Saturday (by 22 points). Stanford’s slim NCAA Tournament hopes took a big hit with the two losses, and now the Cardinal are in a tough spot.

Stanford finishes the regular season with an 18-12 record and a mere 9-9 record in conference play. Considering the Pac-12 is having a down year, the Cardinal aren’t going to get an at-large bid into the NCAAs unless they make a run to the league tournament finals next week. 

That seems unlikely, as Stanford has now lost three in a row and five of their last seven. With the poor finish, the Cardinal will be the No. 6 seed in the Pac-12 tourney, and that means they could face a quarterfinal matchup against Utah—the Utes beat Stanford handily this year in the one matchup between the teams.

As for the Bears, they conclude the year with a 17-14 mark with a poor 7-11 record in the Pac-12. They are the eighth seed in the conference tournament, and that means perhaps Cal would get another shot at Arizona in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats handled the Bears with ease this season, twice.

Cal hurt itself Saturday against the Sun Devils at the free-throw line, where the Bears missed seven of their 15 attempts. In a game decided by four points, clearly that was a factor. Cal also committed 23 fouls and sent Arizona State to the line 30 times in the contest. It’s hard to win with those numbers going against you.

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Tyrone Wallace scored 23 points and notched six assists and six rebounds in the loss.

Meanwhile, Stanford shot just 37 percent from the floor, while allowing Arizona to shoot close to 54 percent. That led to a 16-point halftime deficit from which the Cardinal could never recover. Chasson Randle scored 16 points, while Stefan Nastic and Anthony Brown each contributed 14 points.

The Pac-12 Tournament will be the last chance for salvation: Stanford will face the Washington Huskies in the first round of the tourney on Wednesday in Las Vegas at 8:30 p.m. Pacific. The Cardinal swept the Huskies (15-14) this season. Washington started the season with a 12-game winning streak before crashing hard in conference play. 

Stanford will need to beat Washington, Utah and perhaps Oregon in the semifinals to even think of an NCAA at-large bid—all in three days. That’s a tall order for any team, let alone that’s been struggling as much as the Cardinal have been recently.

As for Cal, they face Washington State in the opening round in Las Vegas, also on Wednesday. The two team split their match-ups this season, each winning on the other’s home court. 

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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on Examiner.com.