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Matchups Set for Pac-12 Tournament: Cal Faces Stanford in Opener

Arizona loses to USC, but is still the regular-season champ and No. 1 seed. Bears finish tied for sixth and are the No. 7 seed
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Cal lost to Stanford by 22 points in its final regular-season game on Thursday, and the Bears will face Stanford again in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday.

Games played Saturday established the final seedings and pairing for the Pac-12 tournament, and USC's 78-65 upset of regular-season champion Arizona on Saturday night may have ruined the Wildcats' bid for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.  But it did not affect Arizona's position as the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

bracket 5

The top four seeds -- No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 Washington State, No. 3 Colorado and No. 4 Oregon -- all received first-round byes.

Cal tied with a Washington and Utah for sixth place in the final conference standings, but the tie-breaker system gave Cal (13-18, 9-11 Pac-12) the No. 7 seed, which means the Bears will face 10th-seeded Stanford (13-17, 8-12 Pac-12) in a first-round game at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in Las Vegas.  

Stanford clobbered Cal 80-58 on Thursday for Cal's second straight loss of more than 20 points, but the Bears defeated Stanford in Berkeley 73-71 back on January 26.

If the Bears win that opening game, they would face second-seeded Washington State (23-8, 14-6) in a quarterfinal game. Cal split its two regular-season games with the Cougars.

Cal needs to win the Pac-12 tournament to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament, but things are less clear for Colorado and Utah.  

The Buffaloes have won six games in a row and probably would be in the NCAA tournament if selections were made today.  But if Colorado loses its opening Pac-12 tournament game against either Utah or Arizona State the Buffaloes might have some nervous moments when the 68-team field is revealed next Sunday, March 17. Meanwhile, Utah, which lost 66-65 to Oregon on Saturday, probably needs to win its first-round game against Arizona State as well as its quarterfinal match against Colorado to have any shot at an NCAA tournament berth.

The only two Pac-12 teams assured of getting a bid to the NCAA tournament are Arizona and Washington State.

The Pac-12 championship game is scheduled for Saturday evening.

Arizona is certainly the favorite, but the tournament is wide open.  The Wildcats have lost five conference games and three of them were to teams at the very bottom of the final Pac-12 standings -- USC, Stanford and Oregon State, who happen to be the ninth, 10th and 12th seeds in the conference tournament.

Cover photo by Neville E. Guard, USA TODAY Sports

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