Editorial: Bears' Lot in Life: Getting Snubbed in the Polls



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What does it take to get ranked around here? How about humbling the No. 12 team, Stanford? Done that.

How about topping No. 17 Oregon in an exhilarating double-overtime win last Saturday? Check that one off the list.

Taking care of USC on the road? That must not be it, either.

Despite all this, and a record that places the Cal men's basketball team in a four-way tie for third place in one of the toughest leagues in the country, the Bears remain unranked.

Five of the teams in the Pac-10 are in the top 25. The last time that happened was 1995. Never has there been six from the Pac-10.

"I don't really pay a lot of attention (to the rankings)," says Cal coach Ben Braun. "It's a little more important at the end of the year. If it happens, it's a nice compliment."

But at the same time, he adds, "We're playing as well as some of the teams that are ranked."

No kidding. Cal's performance rivals Stanford's. Each team has a big road win and has the same record in league play. Cal even has a better overall record. Yet Stanford's ranked 12th and Cal's 29th.

"I think (Cal's) capable of being a ranked team," says Dave Hirsch, a Pac-10 spokesperson. "We're a very strong conference."

So why doth the AP show us such scorn?

First, consider who's doing the ranking. The AP polls sports writers, allocating the teams points to establish a ranking. Some grudgingly allege an East Coast bias in the writers, but Hirsch says this is basically nonexistent.

Maybe Cal doesn't fit the image. Even though Amit Tamir was named Pac-10 Player of the Week last week, many players have had stand-out performances and there is no clear most valuable player.

Cal doesn't have a star who consistently carries the team on his back. Instead, the Bears alternate the duty amongst themselves. Without a national star to latch onto, the Bears are destined to be noticed less.

Reputation not only keeps some teams overrated, but keeps others, like Cal, underrated.

"Stanford began the season ranked, so they're more likely to stay ranked," Hirsch says. "Teams that aren't ranked after preseason have to work their way in."

Even though Cal's not part of the popular crowd, the Bears have a solid chance of being asked to the Big Dance, the NCAA tournament.

And there is one poll they can still win. The fans poll.

There are 32,128 students at UC Berkeley and only 18,591 at Stanford. This means that Cal has accumulated many more fans over the years, and should have a much larger base of support.

The Daily Californian calls on all students, faculty, alumni, and any other fans to log on to www.espn.com, and vote the Bears into first. (At the same time, we urge all readers to put Stanford at the bottom). We can rule the fan poll. Go Bears.

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