"I've had my mind wrapped around playing on someone else's home floor," Gottlieb said, "so it wasn't a surprise at all. That's just the way women's basketball is right now."
And 15th-seeded Fresno State (24-8), the Mountain West Conference champion, had to figure on packing its bags, too. The Bulldogs are back for a sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance still trying for the program's first victory.
There will be familiar faces on both benches given the all-California matchup.
"It's exciting for those who follow California women's basketball," Pebley said.
And it could be an even more intriguing all-California matchup in the regional final April 1 in Spokane, Wash., if Cal and Stanford each does its part.
Fresno State hopes to have a say in that. Way back in early November, the Bulldogs showed they are a legitimate contender in a hard-fought 72-61 loss at Stanford in the season opener for both schools — yes, the Bulldogs looked good losing to the Cardinal in Pebley's debut in her new job.
"I think it's the first thing we have to pack in our suitcases is that feistiness," said Pebley, whose team faced four Pac-12 opponents in all.
Her team is riding some nice momentum with a seven-game winning streak and victories in 14 of its last 16 games.
Gottlieb understands there's much more to March Madness than having the country's most powerful man on your side.
"You know, these kids, we were talking about it last night. With the immediacy of texting and phone calls, I love these kids and we can be real and talk about stuff like that," Gottlieb said of the President's prognosticating. "It was kind of going around the team last night. Today, of course I'll address it and mention it. We try to appreciate the moment, we try to have fun and enjoy this. I'll let them know that's all that it is — a chance to kind of laugh and smile and think that's cool."
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