By Sam Maluth
It’s finally here! March Madness! That time of the year that we’ve all been waiting for has arrived at last. And the Cal Golden Bears are getting ready to roar.
The Bears were handed the #4 seed in the South region, the same region as #1 overall seed Kansas. Cal will be facing off against #13 seed Hawaii in the first round this Friday in Spokane, Washington at 2:00 PM ET.
Cal ended their season at 23-10, finishing third in the Pac-12 and ending the year in the #23 spot in the AP rankings. Cal’s regular season ended this past Friday after they lost in overtime to Utah 82-78 in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament. Despite the loss, the NCAA committee was nice enough to gift the Golden Bears with a #4 seed.
The Rainbow Warriors finished their season at 27-5, winning a share of the Big West regular season title along with UC Irvine. Hawaii was the #1 seed in the Big West tournament, winning all three of its games to win the tournament. They held on to beat Long Beach State 64-60 in the championship game to clinch the conference’s automatic bid. Hawaii’s leading scorer in that game was Aaron Valdes with 14 points. Stefan Jankovic, Valdes and Roderick Bobbitt were the best players for the Rainbow Warriors during the regular season, and the ones who they will be presumably looking for in the game on Friday.
In spite of how Cal’s conference tournament ended, they finished as one of the hottest teams in college basketball, going 9-2 during February and the first half of March. The Golden Bears will be looking for freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb as well senior Tyrone Wallace to get them through this first round matchup.
Something to watch in this game will be how Cal defends the three-point line. They allowed nine three-pointers to Oregon State and gave up seven more against Utah in the Pac-12 tournament. Cal has allowed opponents to shoot 35.1% on three-pointers this year, which ranks 212th in the nation.
Cover Image: California’s Richard Solomon (25) blocks a shot by UCLA’s Reves Nelson (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jayne Kamin-Oncea)