Cal Women's Basketball: Bears Will Face North Carolina in NCAA Tourney Saturday

North Carolina's Jocelyn JonesPhoto by Jim Dedmon - USA TODAY Sports

Tar Heels have a win over Notre Dame. If Cal wins that one, Bears would face No. 1 Baylor in Waco, Texas

Because an error by ESPN accidentally releasing the bracket for the women’s NCAA Tournament too early, it appears Cal is the No. 8 seed and will face ninth-seeded North Carolina on Saturday in the first round in Waco, Texas.

If the Bears win that opening game, things will get a lot more difficult in a hurry, because their second-round opponent would be Baylor, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, Plus, the Bears would have to play the game on Baylor’s home court.

First things first though.

ESPN has apologized for mistakenly releasing the bracket on ESPNU, but screen shots of the bracket have already been making the rounds.

As a result, Cal knew its opponent and destination long before its planned selection-show party at a Berkeley restaurant. So the players had to do a little acting later on to feign surprise.

The Bears (19-14) will be taking on a Tar Heels squad that finished the regular season 18-14, including 8-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, ending up in eighth place. North Carolina lost three of its final four games, and was eliminated from the ACC tournament by fourth-ranked Notre Dame. However, North Carolina did beat Notre Dame with the Irish were ranked No. 1, capturing a 78-73 victory on Jan. 27 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

North Carolina and Cal had two common opponents this season – UCLA and Colorado. North Carolina crushed the Bruins 83-49 early in the season, while Cal lost both of its games to UCLA. The Tar Heels lost a road game to Colorado 86-74, while Cal beat the Buffaloes in Boulder, Colo., 80-60.

​The star of the selection party was coach Lindsay Gottlieb's toddler son, as seen in this video