Apparently, a Washington sweep was worth a full seed to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, who moved the Cal Golden Bears up to a No. 9 seed in his latest NCAA tournament bracket projections that were released on Monday.
Last week, the Golden Bears were listed as a No. 10 seed by Lunardi, before Cal won at Washington State and Washington last week. The tournament selections will be made in a month, on March 16.
Stanford, which split its two games in the Pacific Northwest by losing to the Huskies in Seattle before beating the Cougars in Pullman, remained a No. 9 seed in Lunardi’s projection.
Lunardi has the Pac-12 Conference as one of four to receive six bids, along with the Big 12, Big 10 and the Atlantic-10.
Besides Cal and Stanford, Lunardi projects Arizona (a No. 1 seed), UCLA (No. 5), Arizona State (No. 9) and Colorado (No. 10).
The four teams Lunardi projects to play in the first round on March 18-19 are Tennessee, Richmond, Saint Joseph’s and St. John’s, with Georgetown, BYU, West Virginia and Southern Miss the first four out.
The Golden Bears’ profile improved as they now have an RPI rating of No. 45. Cal (17-8) has three wins in the RPI Top 50, all within conference play—at Stanford on Jan. 2, at Oregon on Jan. 9 and vs. Arizona on Feb. 1. The Golden Bears are 3-5 against teams in the Top 50. The five losses came against Syracyse on a neutral court on Nov. 26, at Creighton on Dec. 22, at UCLA on Jan. 26, vs. Arizona State on Jan. 29 and vs. Stanford on Feb. 5. Their Jan. 22 loss at USC (No. 142 RPI) is their worst.
Stanford (16-8) is No. 47 in the latest RPI and is 4-6 against the RPI top 50. The wins are at Connecticut (Dec. 18), at Oregon (Jan. 12), vs. Arizona State (Feb. 1) and at Cal (Feb. 5). The losses include vs. BYU (Nov. 11), to Pittsburgh at Brooklyn (Nov. 26), to Michigan at Brooklyn (Dec. 21), vs. Cal (Jan. 2), at UCLA (Jan. 23) and vs. Arizona (Jan. 29). The Cardinal’s worst loss, however, was Wednesday at Washington, which has an RPI of 83.
No other Bay Area teams are on the radar for the NCAA tournament without winning their conference’s automatic bid.