Cal and Utah continue postseason runs this week
By the Pac-12 Conference
California and Utah still have their title hopes alive. The Golden Bears are making their first-ever trip to the NCAA Final Four, while the Utes earned a berth in the finals of the WNIT with an overtime victory over Kansas State on Wednesday ... With Cal's ticket to the Final Four booked, it marks the sixth-straight year, and 14th time overall, a Pac-12 team has played in a national semifinal game ... As postseason accolades continue to roll out, Pac-12 players are featured on a number of short lists. Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike has been tabbed a first team All-American by the Associated Press and USBWA, while four others were honorable mention AP All-Americans. Additionally, Ogwumike is a finalist for the WBCA's National Defensive Player of the Year. Owgumike, along with California's Layshia Clarendon and Gennifer Brandon, is in the running for the WBCA State Farm Wade Trophy and a spot on the WBCA All-America team ... Additionally, head coaches Lindsay Gottlieb of Cal and Stanford's Tara VanDerveer are finalists for two different national coach of the year honors ... The four Pac-12 NCAA Tournament teams are ranked in the national polls, with Stanford leading the way at No. 4. Four Pac-12 teams have been ranked in the Associated Poll for 13th-consecutive weeks ... All three games of the NCAA Women's Final Four will be televised on ESPN, while the WNIT Championship game will be televised on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, April 6.
NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Sunday, April 7 • Final Four (New Orleans, La.)
CALIFORNIA (32-3) vs. #5 Louisville (28-8)…..ESPN…..3:30 pm PT/6:30 pm ET
#1 Notre Dame (34-1) vs. #1 Connecticut (33-4)…..ESPN…..5:30 pm PT/8:30 pm ET
Tuesday, April 9 • Championship Game (New Orleans, La.)
Final Four winners ESPN…..5:30 pm PT/8:30 pm ET
Wednesday, April 3 • Semifinals
UTAH at Kansas State…..UTAH, 54-46 (OT)
Saturday, April 6 • Championship Game
UTAH at Drexel…..CBS SN….12 pm PT/3 pm ET
Pac-12 in the NCAA Tournament: The Pac-12 earned four NCAA Tournament bids this season, the most for the Conference since 2007, with California, Colorado, Stanford and UCLA each receiving invitations. All but Colorado made it out of the first round; it is the first time since the 2009 tournament the Pac-12 had three teams advance to the second round. The 2009 tournament also marked the last time two Pac-12 teams played in the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight. With Cal's appearance in the NCAA Women's Final Four this year, a Pac-12 team has played in the national semifinal for six-consecutive years. Prior to this year's tournament, Stanford had made five-consecutive trips to the Final Four from 2008-2012.It is the 14th occasion in the history of the NCAA Tournament a Pac-12 team has played in the national semifinals.
PAC-12 TEAM NOTES
The Pac-12 co-champion Golden Bears won the Spokane Regional with wins over LSU (73-63) and Georgia (61-59 OT). SR G Layshia Clarendon was named the Spoke Regional's Most Outstanding Player, while teammate Afure Jemerigbe joined her on the all-tournament team. A No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Bears defeated sixth-seeded LSU (73-63) and played fourth-seeded Georgia to an overtime victory, 65-62, to advance to their first-ever NCAA Final Four, after making their first apperance in the Elite Eight. Cal is having a record-breaking season, which includes the program's first-ever 30-win campaign. The Bears won 17 Conference games this season, also a team record, en route to capturing a tie for the league regular-season crown. Ranked sixth in the country, the Bears lead the Pac-12 and rank third in the nation in rebounding margin (+11.3). On the boards, the team is led by JR F Gennifer Brandon who ranks 15th in the country with 11.2 rpg. Teammate SR G Layshia Clarendon is the team's leading scorer at 16.4 ppg, and was even better in league play, contributing 17.6 ppg. Both Brandon and Clarendon are national player of the year candidates, as well as WBCA Regional All-America candidates. They were named honorable mention All-Americans by the Associated Press. Head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year by a panel of media who cover the league and was recently named a finalist for the Naismith Award National Coach of the Year. The Bears are making their ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and sixth in the last eight years.
The Utes advanced to the finals of the WNIT for the first time in program history. Utah is making its ninth-straight postseason appearance and has already bested its record from last year, recording its fourth 20-win campaign in six years, and first under third-year head coach Anthony Levrets. The defensive-minded Utes have been even tough to score on in 2012-13, with opponents averaging just 54.2 ppg so far this season, 1.6 points per game better than last year (55.8). Utah won seven of its last 10 regular season games to earn the No. 6 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, where it went 1-1 and advanced to the quarterfinals. Utah leads the Pac-12 and ranks 21st in the nation in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 35.4 percent from long range. Defensively, they rank in the top third of the Conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense (2nd, .260), scoring defense (2nd, 54.2), field goal percentage defense (4th, .356) and rebounding defense (3rd, 34.6). The Utes feature one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league in JR F Michelle Plouffe and JR F Taryn Wicijowski. Both players rank in the top eight in the league in scoring and in the top 12 in rebounding. Wicijowski ranks 25th in the country in field goal percentage (52.1). Plouffe was named honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press.