It might not be March Madness for Cal, but March could still be Mad

Sunny Shen/Staff

Spring semester college sports? I know what you’re thinking: basketball. College students across the country are turning their eyes to the court to watch their teams compete for a spot at the big dance.

It’s March Madness! A competition so relevant it causes a dip in national productivity. It is also an event that Cal men’s and women’s basketball will likely not take part in.

The men have fallen back to a losing record after two exciting Pac-12 wins, while the women have yet to win a conference game. Those struggles may keep both blue and gold teams out of the big dance, but basketball is by no means the only sport on campus. Here are some teams Bears fans should keep an eye on in spring 2020.

Women’s and men’s swim and dive

Cal is the No. 1 team in the nation in women’s swim. Make no mistake, the Bears are a team to watch, especially as they seek to end their run of three consecutive runner-up finishes at national championships.

A streak that is already heartbreaking for Cal fans only gets worse. The blue and gold have finished No. 2 since 2017. The winner each and every season since then? Stanford. That’s right, the Cardinal are seeking their fourth straight national championship. The Bears are out for revenge. 

The men’s swim and dive team is another squad to look out for this spring. The defending national champs broke a streak of four straight losses to Texas in 2019.

Not satisfied? Let me introduce you to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Swimmers on both the men’s and women’s teams have shots at representing their countries this summer. 

If you’re a fan of the blue and gold and you want to see championships and (maybe) soon-to-be Olympians, your eyes should be on the pool.

Rugby

Cal lost for the second consecutive year to Life University last season in the rugby 15s national championship, and if you’re a Bears fan and you want to see some blue and gold success, this is the team for you.

Rugby is an entertaining, if underwatched, sport. If you think games like football are a bit slow and procedural, or simply miss watching an extremely physical sport, rugby is worth a look-see.

Fifteen Cal student-athletes hit hard, run fast and, at the end of the day, have a shot at a national championship. Tune in for the Bears’ matches against the University of British Columbia, as well as their likely postseason push, for hours worth of entertainment.

Women’s gymnastics

After years of coming up just short of qualification for the national championship round as a team, the Bears appear to have a talented mix of gymnasts. Talented enough? Well, watch and find out.

Powered by dominance on the uneven bars and star junior Kyana George, Cal might just be a dark horse. The team is by no means a favorite to be one of the last four teams standing come the postseason, but with consistency, the opportunity and potential remain nonetheless.

The Bears will still have to go through tough competition; a trip to No. 3 UCLA looms large in early March. Cal has struggled with illness and injury early on, but a few lucky breaks and continued improvement could, at most, create a surprise contender and, at the very least, provide excitement.

Men’s basketball

If Game of Thrones had been casting now, Cal men’s hoops would have nabbed a starring role. The Bears have been singing the “Song of Ice and Fire.” Just when you think they’re showing some heat with a winning streak, it all comes crashing down in a 32-point loss to USC.

This team may be a far cry from a national title contender. It may be a long shot at even Pac-12 glory, but when Cal wins, it makes it exciting.

The Bears’ last two home games have been down-to-the-wire affairs. The team has yet to win a road game, but apparently, home conference games can only end with Matt Bradley making clutch threes.

Are they going to win a national championship? No. Are they going to keep you on the edge of your seat? Yes. With Cal men’s basketball, you never know what you’re going to get. Game to game, minute to minute, this team is unpredictable. If you thought season eight of Game of Thrones was boring and formulaic, you should check out the Bears.

One day only: The Big Meet

Track and field is always a fun sport to watch, and if you’re looking for tense rivalries, look no further than the Big Meet on April 11.

You thought the Stanford-Cal rivalry was confined to the Axe? Nope. The Big Meet is an insane clash between the Cardinal and the Bears on the track and on the field. These two teams go head-to-head in one of the most exciting dual meets around.

Athletes can score points for their team in each event, so every moment counts, and when both teams line up on the track for the last 100 meters of the 4×400-meter relay — a rare, but hallowed tradition — you know it’s on.

Contact Jasper Kenzo Sundeen at [email protected].