BERKELEY -- Lindsay Gottlieb has already conceded that she won't be the best dressed coach Saturday when the Cal women's basketball team takes on Nikki Caldwell's LSU squad in the Sweet 16.
Caldwell, well-known for her fashion sense and extensive high-heel shoe collection, is headed to NCAA regional in Spokane after guiding the No. 6 Tigers to a 71-66 upset over No. 3 Penn State on Tuesday night.
"I've lost the fashion battle already, we know that, I'm sure I'll hear about it all week," Gottlieb said.
Caldwell has her team playing good basketball, too. LSU was down to just seven healthy players against Penn State, but came back from a seven-point deficit at halftime to win.
Caldwell and Gottlieb will each make their Sweet 16 head coaching debuts when No. 2 seeded Cal (31-3) and LSU (22-11) play Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Arena.
The winner gets either Stanford or Georgia, who face off in another Pac-12 vs. SEC Sweet 16 matchup in Spokane.
While Cal and LSU haven't faced each other in over 20 years, the Bears do have familiarity with Caldwell from her days as UCLA's head coach.
Caldwell left for LSU in 2011 after three years in the Pac-12 and coached against Cal's current juniors and seniors while with the Bruins.
"We know any team Nikki is coaching is going to be well-coached," Cal senior guard Layshia Clarendon said. "I think they're going to be defensive-oriented. We know they play zone, maybe they press."
The Tigers have big posts in 6-foot-5 Theresa Plaisance and 6-foot-4 Shanece McKinney and Derreyal Youngblood, but it was guards Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley who carried LSU past Penn State.
"Everyone can joke that Nikki has great style, but she's also a terrific basketball coach," Gottlieb said. "We respect them a lot. I know that staff really well and know that team is going to be ready."
Cal is looking ahead and not dwelling on its near-collapse at the end of regulation in its 82-78 overtime win over South Florida on Monday. Until the Bears let a 10-point lead slip away in the last minute, Gottlieb said she thought it was one of her team's better games of the year.
"We shouldn't have let the game get as close as it was but you have to let it go," Clarendon said. "March is about survive and advance. We're off (to face) LSU, we don't have time to worry about that game. There are definitely some small lessons, you're up 14 you want to close a team out."
"The game right in front of us is the one we're focused on," Brandon said.