NCAA Silver Lining for Cal

March 15, 2010, 7:52 pm
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March 15, 2010CAL PAGE
SIGN UP FOR BRACKETBALL 2010!If youre among the Cal die-hards who think the Golden Bears actually have a shot at winning the NCAA mens basketball title, feel free to stop reading now and move on with your day.If youre a college hoops fan who seeks entertainment and entertainment alone from March Madness, or a Berkeley fan who cares about future recruits, proceed. Cals draw simply couldnt be better under the circumstances.The most significant circumstance, of course, is the loss to Washington in the Pac-10 tourney final. That changed everything. It did nothing short of dramatically altering the Golden Bears national identity.Beat the Huskies and youre the undisputed king of one of the countrys traditional power conferences. Granted, the Pac-10 was a conference in decline this season, but any team that wins the regular-season and tournament title curries favor with the selection committee.Win that game against Washington, and all of a sudden Mike Montgomery is twice the coach -- in the eyes of CBS -- as he is today. Jerome Randle and Jamal Boykin are better players. Cals campus is a little bit prettier.The loss, though, somehow made the Golden Bears tourney run more appealing to the casual Bay Area basketball fan. In beating the Huskies, Cal might have earned the No. 5 seed in the South and a first-round game against Siena. You know, the Metro Atlantic champs. Alex Franklin? Edwin Ubiles?Bueller .. Bueller? Anyone?Exactly. Instead, with the loss, the Golden Bears get Louisville in the South Regional first round. And with a win over the Cardinals, Cal likely gets a date with top-seeded Duke.How is that good?
Well, again, were talking about the casual fan here. And every casual college hoops fan knows that the college game has long been defined by -- increasingly so, since the one-and-done era was ushered in by the myopic NBA -- its coaches.Rick Pitino is a huge name. He coaches Louisville.Mike Krzyzewski is a huge name. He coaches Duke.Instant interest. And with a couple of wins, instant cachet for Cal.It probably wont happen, as noted above. Louisville can flat ball -- employing Pitinos signature pressure defense -- and Randle is going to be swarmed from the opening tip Thursday night in Jacksonville, Fla.Getting past Duke, which has an All-America forward in Kyle Singler, a 7-footer inside and Krzyzewski, will be even more difficult.But you cant tell me youre not more interested in Cal vs. Louisville than Cal vs.Siena.The nations prep stars surely will be, and thats where the Golden Bears really come out ahead. --Mychael Urban
What's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.