It was only a month ago that the California Golden Bears were an NCAA Tournament bubble team, a Pac 12 afterthought, and a team where shoving wasn’t allowed. Fast-forward a month later, not only is the Golden Bears securely in the NCAA Tournament, but they are only a half game out of the lead for the Pac 12 regular season title.
It wasn’t by happenstance that they find themselves in a good position right before postseason play begins. Cal just rattled off seven victories in a row–not all against Pac 12 bottom-feeders either. The Golden Bears toppled three at-large quality teams during the streak and battled through some internal craziness.
In the middle of California’s winning ways, coach Mike Montgomery shoved one of his star players. Not only did Montgomery put his team in the national spotlight for the first time all season–he did it by creating a negative buzz around the program. Not surprisingly, the seven game winning streak has all but put an end to that mini-controversy.
The two teams that Cal is trailing in the Pac 12 standings–the UCLA Bruins and Oregon Ducks–have an easy road to finish the season. It is unlikely that either of those teams will fall, giving the Golden Bears a chance to win the regular season conference title. Although, considering where they were a month ago, I think California is more than fine being in the position they are in now.
The Golden Bears only have one game remaining. Wednesday night the Stanford Cardinal will travel to Cal for the final game of their regular season. Montgomery and the Golden Bears faithful would like nothing else than to continue riding their winning ways into the postseason.
In a what seems to be a trend: It might not be the best team who does the most damage come the postseason–it might be the hottest. Luckily for Cal, not many teams are as hot as they are at the moment.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone