There's one and only one Bay Area team in the 2009 NCAA Men's Tournament bracket -- the Cal Golden Bears are your local rooting interest. Stanford had the occasional poor season and St. Mary's efforts got them only to the NIT Tournament. You have two days to pencil Cal in as the winner of your bracket, and then figure out what other game results will enable that to happen. They'll play Maryland when the West tournament begins Thursday.
Wait a minute -- Maryland is in the west? I could have sworn...
Cal and Maryland, the number 7 and 10 seeds in the West respectively, tip off Thurday afternoon in Kansas City at what will be about 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time. For those of you who anticipate actually being at your desk for part of the afternoon, games are being streamed live at NCAA.com.
Cal will be a fun team to watch -- they're the top three-point shooting team in the country, and coach Mike Montgomery has been to 12 previous NCAA Tournaments. Their foe Maryland boasts an almost-certain NBA first round draft pick, the wily Venezuelan Greivis Vasquez. Think of him as a young Manu Ginobili.
You may not have watched much Maryland this year. But if they have a young Manu Ginobili, it won't take you long to start hating them.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer with NIT written all over him.