March Madness is here.
Despite being repeatedly called a one-bid league, the Pac-12 will be sending two teams (No. 11 seed Colorado and No. 12 seed California) to the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament. The Cal Bears were one of the last four teams on the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament bracket.
The Pac-12 regular-season champion, Washington, did not receive an NCAA tournament at-large bid. Washington received a No. 1 seed in the NIT, where the Huskies will be facing No. 8 seed Texas-Arlington on March 13. It was the first time since more than one team per conference has been allowed in the NCAA basketball tournament that a Pac-12 regular-season champion failed to get in the Big Dance.
Additional Pac-12 teams in the 2012 NIT include: No. 1 seed Arizona, No. 3 seed Oregon, and No. 3 seed Stanford.
The winner of the Pac-12’s automatic NCAA tournament bid, Colorado, got in as a No. 11 seed in the South region. The Buffaloes will be going up against No. 6 seed UNLV in the second round. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels finished the season ranked No. 20 in the AP Top 25. UNLV beat the Cal Bears 85-68 earlier this season.
The Cal Bears got in the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament with an at-large bid and a No. 12 seed. The Bears will be playing in the NCAA tournament first round. Cal will be going up against No. 12 seed South Florida. The winner of that match will go on to play No. 5 seed Temple in the Midwest region second round.
To help you fill out those all-important NCAA brackets, here is a preview, including team stats and assessments for the two Pac-12 teams in 2012’s Big Dance.
The Cal Bears have a 24-9 overall, 17-1 home, 5-6 away and 2-2 neutral record this season.
Cal finished the Pac-12 regular season tied for second with Oregon, one game behind Washington. The Bears have a 13-5 Pac-12 Conference record.
No. 2 seed Cal lost in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament to No. 6 seed Colorado.
The Bears averaged 71.7 points per game while keeping their opponents to 61.8 points per game this season. In shooting, Cal has a .479 field goal percentage, a .368 three-point field-goal percentage—making an average of 4.6 three-point shots per game—and a .746 free-throw percentage.
The Bears’ point leader is sophomore guard Allen Crabbe, who averages 15.3 points per game.
Cal faced two Top AP 25 teams this season, losing both games. The Bears' first loss to a ranked team was to then-No. 21 Missouri, 53-92. The Mizzou Tigers finished the season ranked No. 5 and won the Big 12 Conference tournament.
Cal’s second loss to a ranked team was to then-No. 21 UNLV, 68-85. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels finished the season ranked No. 20 in the AP and third in the Mountain West.
No. 12 seed Cal’s match against No. 12 seed South Florida is up first. The two teams will play in the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament first round on March 14 in Daytona, Fla.
South Florida has made two prior NCAA basketball tournament appearances (1990 and 1992). In both tournaments, the South Florida Bulls lost in the first round. In comparison, the California Bears have made 16 prior March Madness appearances, including winning the championship in 1959.
South Florida (20-13, 12-6) finished the regular season tied for fourth in the Big East, along with Cincinnati and Georgetown.
In the Big East tournament the Bulls lost in overtime to Notre Dame in the quarterfinals.
South Florida played seven AP Top 25 teams this season, with a win-loss record of 2-5. The Bulls' two wins were over then-No. 24 Seton Hall and then-No. 19 Louisville. Seton Hall did not receive a 2012 NCAA tournament bid. Louisville, which won the Big East tournament, received a No. 4 seed in the West Region.
California has a great chance of getting past South Florida in the first-round play-in game. If they do so, the Bears will go up against No. 5 seed Temple on March 16 in the Midwest Region second round.
Temple would be a much more difficult match for the Cal Bears. The Temple Owls (24-7, 13-3) finished the regular season No. 21 in the AP Top 25 and first in the Atlantic 10. The Atlantic 10 Conference is sending four teams to the NCAA tournament this year. St. Bonaventure won the Atlantic 10 tournament, allowing the Bonnies to get in the Big Dance.
Temple only faced one AP Top 25 team this season, the Duke Blue Devils. In that match Temple beat then-No. 5 Duke 78-73.
Despite being in the first round, Cal is arguably in a better position than Colorado in the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament.
The Colorado Buffaloes have a 23-11 overall, 14-2 home, 4-7 away and 5-2 neutral record this season.
Colorado finished the regular season tied for fifth with UCLA, three games behind the Pac-12 regular-season champion, the Washington Huskies. The Buffs have an 11-7 Pac-12 Conference record.
Colorado won the Pac-12 tournament title as a No. 6 seed, earning the Pac-12’s automatic NCAA tournament bid.
The Buffaloes averaged 67.6 points per game while keeping their opponents to 62.5 points per game this season. In shooting, Colorado has a .445 field-goal percentage, a .343 three-point field-goal percentage—making an average of 5.5 three-point shots per game—and a .694 free-throw percentage.
The Buffaloes’ point leader is senior guard Carlon Brown, who averages 12.6 points per game.
Colorado did not face any Top AP 25 teams this season. The Buffaloes had a notable 58-67 nonconference loss to Wichita State. The Wichita State Shockers finished the season first in the Missouri Valley.
No. 11 seed Colorado will be playing No. 6 seed UNLV in the second round of the NCAA tournament in the South Region. The South Region has overall No. 1 seed Kentucky and No. 2 seed Duke.
UNLV has made 18 prior NCAA tournament appearances, including four Final Four appearances and a national title in 1990. The UNLV rebels have a 33-17 win-loss record in the March Madness event. Colorado, by comparison, has made 10 prior appearances with a 9-12 win-loss record.
The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels finished the season ranked No. 20 in the AP Top 25. The Rebels (26-8, 9-5) finished the regular season third in the Mountain West. The Mountain West Conference is sending four of its members to the NCAA basketball tournament this year: New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Colorado State.
The rebels played five AP Top 25 teams in the regular season with a win-loss record of 3-2. UNLV beat then-No. 1 North Carolina 90-80 and then-No. 19 Illinois 64-48 and then-No. 13 San Diego State 65-63.
The Rebels' regular-season losses against AP Top 25 teams this year include a 51-62 loss to then-No. 14 Wisconsin and a 67-69 loss to then-No. 22 San Diego State.
UNLV played one Pac-12 team this season, California. In that match the Rebels beat the Bears, 85-68.
Even though Colorado beat Cal two out of three meetings this season, it is hard to see the Buffaloes advancing past the Rebels. To have any chance, the Buffs will need to maintain the level of defense they demonstrated in the Pac-12 tournament.
In a year in which the Pac-12 has failed to successfully compete at a top level, going 0-12 against AP Top 25 teams, the Pac-12 will only be sending two teams to the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament.
It is also the first time since more than one team per conference has been allowed in the Big Dance that the regular season Pac-12 champion did not get into the tournament.
Despite not winning the Pac-12 regular-season or conference tournament title, the Cal Bears got in the NCAA tournament as one of the last four teams in. The Bears have maintained a top 50 RPI throughout the season.
Cal arguably has the better chance of the two Pac-12 teams to advance in what will be the Bears' 17th March Madness appearance.
Colorado's first match in the second round may prove to be too much for the Buffaloes, who are on a four-game winning streak after winning the Pac-12 tournament.
However, it is March Madness, after all, and anything can happen in the Big Dance.