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Basketball Game of the Year; CFP Rankings; Pac-12 Hopes; NCAA Idiocy; Giants' Search

The biggest basketball game of the year in the Bay Area will take place on Feb. 24 at 6:00.

No, it's not a Warriors' game. It’s going to be a year of development and evaluation for the injury-ravaged, lottery bound Dubs. And it's not a Stanford or Cal men's basketball game, as both are picked near the bottom of the Pac-12.

No, the biggest game of the year in the Bay Area this season will be a match between two of the best teams in women's basketball, college or pro.

The Oregon Ducks, currently ranked No. 1 and fresh off a huge upset win over a U.S. national team featuring a boatload of pro and international stars, will meet the Stanford Cardinal, currently ranked No. 3 and featuring a nice mix of veterans and five-star freshmen.

Aside from the quality competition, the other nice thing about the matchup is that it will feature three local stars—Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu (Miramonte-Orinda), the best player in college basketball, who spurned the pros to return for her senior year in Eugene, and Stanford freshmen Haley Jones (Mitty-San Jose), the high school player of the year last season, and Hannah Jump (Pinewood-Los Altos), a deadly three-point shooter.

Coach Tara VanDerveer also recruited two top 50 players from Colorado—Fran Belibi, of high school dunking fame, and 6-5 Ashten Prechtel. They'll join returnees DiJonai Carrington, Kiana Williams, and twins Lexie and Lacie Hull on a team that should contend for the national championship.

If you can't be at Maples Pavilion on 2/24/20, set some time aside to watch the game on the tube. You won't be disappointed.

CFP shakeup: Saturday's results will shake up tomorrow night’s CFP rankings. Last week we had suggested LSU be slotted at No. 1, Penn State at No. 5 and Minnesota at No. 10. The selection committee saw it differently, with Ohio State at No. 1 ahead of LSU, Penn State at No. 4, and Minnesota way down at 17.

LSU's impressive win at Alabama proved the Tigers should be No. 1 (no doubt they will be this week), and Minnesota should move into the top 10 after its upset win over Penn State.

Pac-12 Chances Improve: Meanwhile, in the Pac-12, there are a lot of smiling faces. The winner of the Pac-12 championship game (presumably Oregon or Utah) now has a chance to sneak into the playoff with one loss.

If strength of schedule is a factor, which it is supposed to be, the Pac-12 champ certainly should rank ahead of one-loss Alabama. The Tide has yet to beat a top team, and it has the fearsome Western Carolina Catamounts coming up on Nov. 23.

If there's any justice, Auburn will beat Alabama in the regular season finale to put Nick Saban out of his misery, and the Pac-12 will get in.

Offense AWOL: Stanford looked pretty awful in a 16-13 loss to Colorado. The Cardinal had only one big play on offense all day—a lovely 79-yard touchdown pass from KJ Costello to Simi Fehoko. The under-utilized Fehoko blazed past six, count 'em, six Colorado defenders en route to the end zone.

One must ask how Stanford could score only 16 points against a Colorado defense that hadn't held an opponent under 30 all year.

At 4-5, with upcoming games at WSU, and then home against Cal and Notre Dame, Stanford's streak of 10 straight bowl seasons is in serous jeopardy.

NCAA Absurdity: In the latest example of "doesn't the NCAA have something better to do,” the hypocrites in Indianapolis are suspending Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.

Young's transgression was accepting a loan from a family friend to pay for his girlfriend's trip to the 2019 Rose Bowl game, where Ohio State beat Washington. Despite the fact that the person who loaned Young the money has no apparent ties to Ohio State football, and despite the fact that Young repaid the loan last summer, the NCAA decided something was amiss.

So he was forced to sit out last weekend's game against Maryland (which the Buckeyes won handily without him), and he's expected to be suspended for at least one additional game.

This is why the recent decision to permit athletes to profit from their NIL (name, image and likeness) is so important.

Young is considered the best defensive lineman in the country—even listed as a Heisman candidate by some pundits—and he would be able to earn enough pocket change through autograph signings, appearances, commercials for local businesses, and audio and video greetings for fans, to pay for his girlfriend's travel without needing a loan.

Giant Warning: San Francisco Giants' General Manager Farhan Zaidi is reportedly down to three candidates in his search to replace manager Bruce Bochy. Big shoes to fill, and although Zaidi has had almost a year to think about this, none of the final three appear to even be in Bochy's zip code.

Two are bench coaches with no managerial experience—Houston's Joe Espada and Tampa's Matt Quatraro. The other is former Phillies' manager Gabe Kapler, with whom Zaidi worked when he ran the Dodger's farm system.

Kapler would bring plenty of baggage. He apparently mishandled instances of alleged sexual assault by Dodger minor league players. Even more disturbing is his lifestyle blog, which reportedly provides interesting tidbits like suggesting the use of coconut oil for pleasuring oneself and getting sunlight on testicles to improve sexual performance.

I’m sure that type of advice will go over well in the Giants' clubhouse.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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