From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.
I got a text from my Cal buddy last night, “You’re welcome for Cal again… But 48 points…” This of course set off a chain of text exchanges that culminated in a conversation about whether or not I’d be joining him at Bonnaroo in June – a welcome digression, albeit extremely tangential. But my dear friend had a point. Those 48 points are a less-than-exciting, underwhelming, slow score. It’s for this very count that many of us declare Bo Ryan an eye-ripping excitement-suck for whose style we’d wish the NCAA death penalty upon our own program before enduring a season. The funny thing about that is Bo Ryan wins. Not one of my friends who attended Wisconsin or cheer for the Badgers has seemed to have a problem with his .725 winning percentage. Wisky wins and so too did the Cal Bears on Thursday night. And this is the only stat that matters this time of year.
We are on the cusp of March and by most accounts (check this aggregation out) the Golden Bears are shoving (get it?) their way into the madness. And they most certainly will not be dancing with a statistically intriguing loss. That’s to say, had they shot 48%, outrebounded the Ducks, and committed just 10 turnovers en route to disappointing loss, 74-71, the committee would’ve seen just another loss on a team that’s already wearing nine of them (including a home loss to Harvard). Statistically speaking, Cal had a 27% chance of winning that game. The projected final was 71-64, which is to say that based on the standard game for these two, Oregon was going to win relatively handily. Something different had to happen. So Cal forced a deviation from the norm, limited the game’s possessions, and adjusted the dynamic of the game’s pace.