The California Golden Bears women's basketball team will return to the NCAA Tournament after a year's absence.
The Bears (19-13) earned an at-large bid and are the ninth seed in the Oklahoma City Region and will travel to Waco, Texas to face off against eighth seed Louisiana State University in the first round.
This marks the fifth time in six seasons Cal has made the Dance, and the 12th time in school history.
But the selection was very much in doubt, as most prognosticators had Cal on the bubble but on the outside looking in, a reasonable prediction, considering that Cal finished the Pac-12 slate tied for 7th at 6-12 and lost six of their final eight contests. But the Selection Committee clearly saw enough on Cal's resume: the 13-0 start to the season, and some big wins (Oklahoma, UCLA, Oregon).
But mostly likely, the Bears benefitted from playing in an historically strong Pac-12 this season. The league had the top RPI in the nation for most of the year. As a result, the Pac-12 got a record seven teams invited for the NCAA. In addition to Cal, the Pac-12 will be represented by 2-seeds Stanford and Oregon State, 3-seed Washington, 4-seed UCLA, 8-seed Arizona State, and 10-seed Oregon. In addition, Washington State, Colorado, and Utah, will participate in the WNIT, making it 10 of 12 conference teams going to the postseason.
"Being on the bubble is an interesting and nerve-racking experience," tweeted Cal head coach Lindsey Gottlieb. "But seeing our players and their joy was amazing."
See the Bears' reaction to being selected here:https://twitter.com/CalWBBall/status/841439450177519616
In LSU, Cal will face a familiar foe--head coach Nikki Fargas, who led UCLA from 2008-2011. Cal most recently defeated LSU in the Sweet 16 of 2013 NCAA Tournament, the year Cal made it to the Final Four. The Tigers (20-11) finished seventh (8-8) in the SEC.