Here's an early look at Washington's tournament opening game against Cal:
NO. 9 CALIFORNIA (15-14 OVERALL, 6-12 PAC-10)
VS. NO. 8 WASHINGTON (16-15, 7-11)
6 p.m., Staples Center, Los Angeles.
TV: FSN (joined in progress following Sonics game).
Series: UW leads, 74-72. The teams split this season, with Cal winning 79-75 on Feb. 2 in Seattle, and UW winning 87-84 on March 1 in Berkeley, Calif. This is their first meeting in the Pac-10 tournament.
Statistical leaders: For Cal, F Ryan Anderson, 21.5 ppg and 9.9 rpg; G Jerome Randle, 3.9 apg. For UW, G Ryan Appleby, 11.5 ppg; F Quincy Pondexter, 4.6 rpg (F Jon Brockman leads both categories, but isn't expected to play); G Venoy Overton, 3.3 apg.
Scouting report: Brockman is doubtful due to a sprained left ankle suffered Saturday at Washington State. … Each team would have to win this tournament to make the NCAA tournament, and both are considered on the bubble for NIT or CBI bids. … UW 7-foot center Joe Wolfinger scored a career-high 17 points, including four 3-pointers, the last time these teams met. Cal coach Ben Braun said defensive adjustments will be made to guard against a repeat performance. … Cal leads the Pac-10 with a 77.5 scoring average. The Golden Bears also lead the league and are second nationally in free throw percentage (78.3 percent), while UW ranks last in the league and second-to-last nationally (57.5). … Anderson was named first-team All-Pac-10, and is the Pac-10's second-leading scorer. … Last season, Cal entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed and advanced to the semifinals with wins over No. 9 Oregon State and No. 1 UCLA. … The Bears ended their regular season in Los Angles with an overtime loss to USC and a one-point loss to UCLA. … Cal center DeVon Hardin, who sat out the UCLA game with a hip flexor strain, is expected to play.
Next: Winner meets No. 1 UCLA at 2:30 p.m. Thursday; loser is eliminated.
And a quick look at the rest of the participants:
No. 1 UCLA (28-3 overall, 16-2 Pac-10) Opens 2:30 p.m. Thursday vs. Washington-California winner: Even in an improved Pac-10, the Bruins are pulling away from the field. Two seasons ago, they won the regular season title by one game. Last season they won it by two. And this season by three over Stanford. However, the Final Four-bound Bruins were upset in their Pac-10 tournament opener last season. Coach Ben Howland says they want both titles this time.
No. 2 Stanford (24-6, 13-5) Opens 8:30 p.m. Thursday vs. Arizona-OSU winner: The Cardinal staggered to the finish, barely surviving UW and WSU at home before being swept by the Los Angeles schools last week. However, Pac-10 coach of the year Trent Johnson has the Lopez twins towering in the middle, and that means a challenge for anyone.
No. 3 Washington State (23-7, 11-7) Opens 6 p.m. Thursday vs. Oregon: Looking back at the regular season, coach Tony Bennett said he is proud of how his team dealt with unprecedented expectations and also with how they played their way out of a mid-season run of three straight home losses. The Cougars are certain of another NCAA tournament invitation, but their path to the Sweet 16 would likely be easier than their probable Oregon-Stanford-UCLA path to the Pac-10 tournament title.
No. 4 Southern California (20-10, 11-7) Opens noon Thursday vs. Arizona State: The Trojans head into this tournament as the final Pac-10 team seemingly assured of going on to the Big Dance regardless of what happens this week. And that's fortunate, because this week began amid distracting reports that coach Tim Floyd has been contacted about the job opening at Louisiana State. On Tuesday, Floyd wouldn't confirm or deny contact, but he repeated that USC is "my last job."
No. 5 Arizona State (19-11, 9-9) Opens noon Thursday vs. USC: Despite a fifth-place finish in what might be the nation's best and deepest conference, the Sun Devils report to L.A. as an NCAA bubble team. Coach Herb Sendek believes his team already has done enough to merit an invitation, but he concedes that winning a game in the tournament would be safer than one-and-done.
No. 6 Oregon (18-12, 9-9) Opens 6 p.m. Thursday vs. WSU: The Ducks are the defending tournament champion and the only two-time champion since the tournament was reinstated in 2002. However, Oregon also projects as an NCAA bubble team. And this senior-dominated team might need another trip to the Big Dance to secure coach Ernie Kent's job.
No. 7 Arizona (18-13, 8-10) Opens 8:30 tonight vs. Oregon State: The Wildcats might need a couple of wins to extend their 23-season streak of NCAA tournament appearances. They should benefit from the expected return of point guard Nic Wise. However, these will be the Wildcats final games under interim coach Kevin O'Neill, as Lute Olson announced this week that he will return as head coach at the end of the season. O'Neill greeted the news as "great," but he hasn't committed to sticking around as an Arizona assistant.
No. 10 Oregon State (6-24, 0-18) Opens 8:30 p.m. vs. Arizona: This is an instant rematch for the Beavers, who faced the Wildcats last Thursday and were handed their heads, 81-45. Unless interim coach Kevin Mouton can think up a 36-point adjustment, OSU will end its historically dismal season on a 21-game losing streak.