Cal takes play-in status in stride

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Cal takes play-in status in stride

BERKELEY -- A month ago, this probably isn't the way the Golden Bears imagined the Monday after Selection Sunday would play out. Instead of prepping for a Thursday or Friday tipoff in the NCAA Tournament, the Bears were scrambling to get out of town for a Wednesday matchup in Dayton, Ohio. They're not prepping for an NIT game, like many of their Pac-12 counterparts, but it's still not that assured seed they sought.

But as coach Mike Montgomery put it, his team is still playing -- and is playing in college basketball's grandest of all tournaments.

Montgomery was in high spirits as the team boarded a bus outside of Haas Pavillion just after 1 p.m. Monday afternoon.

He joked that the team better be ready for the task at-hand, as it's "do or die." He admitted the Bears hadn't had much time to digest the 12th-seeded play-in route that awaits. Cal was left in agony on Sunday, as it was one of the final teams to be revealed for the Big Dance. And once their ticket was punched, there's been no time to waste for the Bears.

The PR staff quickly dug up notes of past and present tourney facts for the Bears, while the coaching staff searched for any and all file on South Florida. Meanwhile, the players practiced one last time in Berkeley before boarding the bus for the airport.

The team is scheduled to arrive at the game site at 10 p.m. And rather than practice at the arena Tuesday, the practice has been moved off-site to accommodate security detail for President Barack Obama, who will be attending the first play-in games scheduled for Tuesday night.

The Bears then take the court Wednesday, hoping for their 25th victory of the year. The last time the team had a 25-win season was back in 1960 when the Bears were the tournament runners-up.

I've been told USF (not that USF, South Florida) is a team that doesn't allow its opponent to score more than 55-to-57 points a game, but then again, they usually only score 59 -- so this could be a close game. The uniqueness of this team, is that the Bears may wonder who to guard on Wednesday as South Florida does not have one player averaging more than 10 points a game -- USF seems to spread the scoring route.

The Bears didn't just pack carry-ons for this trip to Ohio. They brought out the big suitcases, hoping to extend this trip into Nashville. A win Wednesday, means they'll face No. 5 Temple Friday in Tennessee.

So, is there more to prove being that Cal was assigned to the play-in game? When asked about that, Montgomery just said the team has to show-up ready to play, if not ready yet.... and then he reiterrated they are proud to be in the tournament because although they may be on the outskirts of this 68-team depth chart, they are at least contenders.

And what do seedings really matter when it comes to the Madness of March? Just ask last year's Virginia Commonweath.

With Travis sidelined, Stanford can't slow down surging Oregon Ducks

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AP

With Travis sidelined, Stanford can't slow down surging Oregon Ducks

BOX SCORE

EUGENE, Ore. -- Chris Boucher had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Dylan Ennis scored 15 and No. 11 Oregon rolled to a 69-52 victory over Stanford on Saturday.

With preseason All-America forward Dillon Brooks on the bench and his left leg in a boot to protect a sprained foot, the Ducks (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) broke a 104-year-old school record with their 16th consecutive win and 38th in a row at home.

Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey each had 11 points for Oregon, which overcame 19 turnovers by shooting 11 of 25 from 3-point range and outrebounding Stanford 40-29.

Marcus Allen had 13 points as the only scorer in double figures for the Cardinal (11-9, 3-5). Stanford went more than eight minutes of the second half without a field goal, shot just 32.3 percent overall (20 of 62) and had two players foul out.

Oregon spotted the Cardinal the first five points and then hit four straight 3-pointers in taking a 16-7 lead. The margin grew to 20 late in the half as the Ducks went 8 of 17 beyond the arc and 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) overall.

Stanford, meanwhile, went the last five minutes of the half without a field goal and trailed 40-22.

The Ducks, who led by as many as 25 late in the game, have won their last six games by an average of 24.3 points.

BIG PICTURE

Stanford hasn't swept a conference road trip since 2010. The Cardinal hope to have leading scorer Reid Travis (16.6 ppg) back from a shoulder injury in time for a visit to California in eight days.

Oregon finishes the first half of the Pac-12 season next week at Utah and Colorado, a road trip it hasn't swept in four tries since the Utes and Buffaloes joined the conference in 2011.

UP NEXT

Stanford, now 0-6 against ranked teams, hits the Pac-12 midpoint at California on Jan. 29.

Oregon goes for its first 8-0 start to conference play in 91 years at Utah on Thursday. The Ducks finished 10-0 in the Pacific Coast Conference in 1925-26.

Report: Harbaugh, Michigan to spend final week of spring practice in Italy

Report: Harbaugh, Michigan to spend final week of spring practice in Italy

Undeterred by recent NCAA legislation, Jim Harbaugh is reportedly going international.

As noted by the Detroit Free Press, a post on Rivals affiliate TheWolverine.com reports that Michigan is planning to spend the final week of football spring practice in Rome, Italy. The team would not only practice several times on Italian soil, but would allow the team to visit the sights in the area and even leave players in Europe to study abroad for a semester.

The move would no doubt ruffle even more feathers in the football and NCAA communities after Harbaugh famously took the Wolverines to the IMG Academy down in Florida for spring practice last March. That prompted recent legislation that was passed at the NCAA convention in Nashville this week — a Harbaugh Rule if you will — that prohibited off-campus practice during a vacation period outside of a playing season.

While it would seem that would rule out trips away from Ann Arbor for spring football practices, it appears the Michigan athletic department is going to push forward by exploiting a slight loophole in the language of the rule. While vacation periods may be off limits like spring break, it appears the Wolverines would be looking to leave town at the end of April, which would be after the semester ends  and does not fall into any scheduled vacation time.

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