After two days of in-depth discussions, calculations and permutations, the take-away from last week's NCAA mock selection seminar was clear for both Cal and Saint Mary's.
There is work to be done if either wants to make this year's NCAA tournament.
Twenty writers and conference officials convened in Indianapolis to study the methodology of the NCAA selection committee. Committee chair Jeff Hathaway of the Big East provided his perspective but didn't vote, and the group assembled ultimately tried its hand at selecting this year's field of 68.
What resulted was more an indictment of this year's brand of West Coast basketball than anything else.
Saint Mary's was the first Bay Area team to be placed in the field as an at-large, but even that took some wrangling as mock committee members weighed a strength of schedule number they felt could be inflated by a December game against Baylor in Las Vegas.
Cal likely would have made the field as an at-large but was instead tabbed during the simulation as the winner of the Pac-12 tournament. The simulation had the Bears beating Stanford in the championship game.
More telling than the fact either made the field was the discussion surrounding both.
While Gonzaga made the at-large pool immediately, Saint Mary's waited through several votes. The Bulldogs sit one game behind the Gaels in the WCC standings with two games to go.
BYU, which plays Gonzaga in Spokane on
At least the WCC was discussed. The Pac-12 garnered very little consideration as a whole. Arizona was eventually the last at-large team to make the field, but writers put in the Wildcats only because the simulation had Xavier beating Temple in the Atlantic-10 championship game to free up another at-large spot in the field.
The message from those assembled seemed clear; neither Cal nor Saint Mary's can feel comfortable as it wraps up conference play. Wins this week over Portland and USF would likely punch Saint Mary's ticket, but a loss to either would leave the Gaels sitting on the bubble again.
And for Cal, a three-game road stretch against Utah, Colorado and Stanford will also dictate how comfortable the Bears can feel going into the Pac-12 tournament in Los Angeles.
The Cardinal (18-9, 8-7 Pac-12) has feasted on the weak and struggled against the strong:
Six of its eight league wins have come against the lowest tier (Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona State, Utah and USC); against the top-six teams, the Cardinal is 2-6.
Stanford probably will face either Oregon State or Arizona State in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament next month.
Barring a collapse, Cal will have a bye into the quarterfinals.
One reason for their turnaround under first-year coach Lindsay Gottlieb: relentless rebounding.
The Bears are second in the nation in rebound margin, plus-14.4 per game. That's nearly triple last season's figure (plus-5.5).
The second-longest streak belongs to the Kentucky men, who have won 50 in a row at Rupp Arena.
On the women's side, Stanford's closest pursuer is Miami, with a mere 39 consecutive home wins.
Ben Enos can be reached at email@example.com. Staff writer Jon Wilner contributed to this report.