Before you say anything: yes, I'm aware that Cal was higher-seeded than Louisville (8 to Louisville's 9), and yes, I know that general knowledge is that the Golden Bears were no slouch. But let's all be brutally honest with one another -- there were a lot of people who had already begun trying to figure out what would happen when Coach K faced Rick Pitino in a Duke/Louisville second round matchup. Because a lot of people assumed this was Louisville's game, even though the Cards had the higher seed. Don't deny it. I have eyes. I have ears. And I heard a lot of chatter about it, as did you.
Unfortunately, though, the Cardinals were going to have to get past Cal yet. And Cal had a unique station this season, the role of secret agent. You see, the Pac-10, by and large, was not very good this year. In fact, it was only expected to net one Tourney bid, and that was expected to go to Cal, which had won the regular season handily and was expected to win the Pac-10 tournament just as handily. That didn't happen, and Washington edged Cal out in the Pac-10 tournament, grabbing themselves a bid and bringing the number of Pac-10 dancers to two.
So no one east of the Mississippi had much reason to regard Cal as much of a threat. After all, they didn't win their conference and were rarely televised in the east this season. And perhaps that's why while most people had heard of Cal hero Jerome Randle, who became the school's all-time leading scorer this season, very few knew that Randle had a key backup man in Theo Robertson, who netted 21 points tonight in a stellar performance. Even Cal's center Max Zhang, who is from China and whom I assume to be approximately 5,000 feet tall, was swattin' tonight.
I'm not saying Pitino didn't know about these guys. I'm sure his scouts had him prepared. I'm just saying that on the whole, these guys weren't on the radar much of the season. And tonight they showed Louisville just how good they are. Did the Cards overlook them with an eye on the Blue Devils? We'll never know. Just as we'll never know the outcome of the hypothetical Duke/Louisville game. But Louisville never had the lead the entire game, was down as many as 18 in the first half and as many as 15 in the second half. They clearly didn't know what to do with the Bears. A frustrated Pitino even got himself slapped with a technical with about five minutes left to go. It would certainly seem that Louisville -- who has been top-notch lately -- wasn't prepared for something like this.
Your result? Cal 77. Louisville 62 and the Golden Bears will try their luck against Duke on Sunday. Let's just hope Duke doesn't make the same mistake Louisville may have made tonight. You best do your homework against this Cal team, you hear?