BERKELEY -- Predictability has given way to an anything-can-happen world in the NCAA women's Final Four.
Top-ranked Baylor is out. So is Stanford. UConn and Notre Dame remain but don't seem quite as almighty as Brittney Griner and her Baylor teammates did before getting eliminated in the Sweet 16.
A notion that once seemed far-fetched is now drastically more realistic: Can Cal win its first NCAA championship?
"The way things are falling, anything is possible now," said Villanova coach Harry Perretta, whose Wildcats play in the Big East with UConn, Louisville and Notre Dame. "This tournament for the women is one of the best that I've seen because of the upsets. I don't remember the last time we didn't have almost all No. 1 seeds."
The way the tournament has played out has to be a confidence booster for a No. 2 seeded Cal team playing in its first Final Four.
"Why not?" senior guard Layshia Clarendon said. "That's been our thing this whole year. Why not us? Why not the Cal Bears? There's all this hype around how we've made it this far. We're not backing down to anyone now. We came here to win. That's what we've wanted the entire year."
No. 5 seeded Louisville, the team that stunned Baylor, then eliminated another perennial power in Tennessee, awaits Cal in the semifinals Sunday.
The other side of the bracket played out as expected -- No. 1 seeds Notre Dame and UConn will face off for the fourth time this season. The winner will be favored in the championship game against the Bears or Cardinals.
And though UConn is playing in a record sixth straight Final Four and Notre Dame has been in the last two finals, Baylor's loss signaled that the powers in the women's game aren't invincible.
"Baylor was this big monster, and a No. 5 seed knocked them off," Cal guard Mikayla Lyles said. "On that level, it was just a celebration for women's basketball. The matchups are different now, there's excitement around it in a different way."
Clarendon said the Bears would love to get another shot at Notre Dame, which ended Cal's season in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament. The Bears' confidence against the country's elite teams grew after they beat a top-five Stanford squad in January.
"The win at Stanford was a seminal moment," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "There is a difference to believing you can and knowing that you can. We have been in these situations where we've had to beat these giants of women's college basketball, and I think now they feel like, why not us?"
So, can Cal win it all? Other coaches think the Bears have a legitimate shot.
"Most definitely," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who has won two NCAA titles. "Every team at this point has strengths and weaknesses. That makes it very exciting."
The Bears have the ingredients that lead to titles, added VanDerveer, a Naismith Hall of Fame coach.
"They rebound the heck out of the ball," she said. "And they have a great leader and competitor in Clarendon. A lot of the tournament is about guard play. They have some really good guards."
Perretta, the Villanova coach, said Cal matches up well against Louisville but would find it a steeper challenge should the Bears advance to face either UConn or Notre Dame.
But Georgia coach Andy Landers likes the possibilities for the winner of the Cal-Louisville game -- the so-called undercard matchup Sunday.
Landers said the winner of the Big East showdown between Notre Dame and Connecticut might suffer from a letdown in the finale Tuesday night.
"Either of those teams will be very much relieved to have won," said Landers, who has led five teams to the Final Four in a 38-year career. "The greatest challenge that Cal has is Louisville. Because, if they don't, it's over. The tournament isn't about beating everybody else."
Landers suggested Cal's biggest obstacle to a national championship is managing the experience as first-time participants.
"It can become very distracting," he said. "As a new coach if you haven't experienced that, you can find yourself trying to accommodate things."
Cal vs. Louisville at New
Orleans, 3:30 p.m., ESPN