Since the men’s Division 1 NCAA tournament is just a little over a month away, the thought starting to go through the heads of the Golden Bear players and fans is whether or not their team will make the Big Dance. With an overall record of 11-8 and a conference record of 3-4, California has their work cut out for them.
The main thing California has to do is raise their conference record. Conference games make up the rest of California’s regular season schedule, so there is plenty of opportunity for the Golden Bears. For a better conference record, road games seem to be the key. Right now the Golden Bears have a 2-3 record for away conference games and a 1-1 record for home conference games. While guarding the home floor is important, it seems like California has a harder time on the road. Their overall away record (3-4) isn’t has good as their home record (5-4).
Certain games will have more weight than others in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. If California wants to be seen, in their eyes, as one of the best teams at large and worthy of a birth in the NCAA tournament, they have to prove that they can beat top teams. There are two such teams in California’s conference, Arizona and Oregon (4 and 20 respectively, according to RPI rankings). California will play Oregon twice and Arizona once. Two of these games will be on the road—another reason they need to do better on the road. The Golden Bears will need every win every game of these three that they can. The first game against a top 25 opponent will be a home game against Oregon this Saturday, Feb. 2 at 1:30 p.m.
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will select the top 25 ranked teams, winners of conference tournaments, and the other best teams at large to make up the tournament brackets. Realistically, California probably won’t make it into the top 25 teams in Division 1. A high percentage of wins, however (especially within their conference), could make them one of the best teams at large. The committee takes end of season performance into account when making their decision. And, if all else fails, there is always the Pac-12 Conference Tournament. Winning this tournament would give the Golden Bears an automatic tournament birth.
If the Golden Bears hope to make the NCAA tournament, there’s no better time to start winning than now. Their next game is tomorrow at 7 p.m. on California’s home court. The schedule of the rest of the Golden Bear’s season can be seen at http://www.calbears.com. Once you enter the site, click on sports and select “basketball” under the men’s list. Then click on “schedules/results.”