With the No. 4 seed in the South Region, California men’s basketball (23-10) is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 and will face No. 13 seed Hawaii (27-5) in the first-round game Friday, March 18 in Spokane, Wash.
The Golden Bears are in the South Region and are marking their 19th all-time selection to the NCAA Tournament. Cal has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament 14 times since 1990.
The winner of Friday’s Cal-Hawaii game will face the winner of No. 5 Maryland-No. 12 South Dakota State Sunday.
Cal enters the NCAA Tournament having won nine of its past 11 games after reaching the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament last week. The Bears finished a perfect 18-0 record inside Haas Pavilion, the best home record in the country against Division I competition.
Overall, Cal stands at 23-10 and tied for third in the Pac-12 with a 12-6 mark. The Bears’ 23 wins are one shy of matching their highest total for a season since the 1959-60 NCAA runner-up squad. Cal has finished among the top three in the conference four of the past five years and in six of the past eight seasons.
A strong defensive team, Cal leads all conference schools in scoring defense (67.0 ppg), field goal percentage defense (39.3%) and 3-point field goals allowed (5.5 per game). The Bears also boast a +6.8 rebounding margin, which rates as the second highest in school history.
Individually, senior Tyrone Wallace, who is coming off a season-high 26-point effort vs. Utah in the Pac-12 semifinals and a personal-best 10 assists against Oregon State in the Pac-12 quarterfinals, leads the squad with 15.3 ppg and 4.4 apg.
Four others average in double figures, paced by Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and first-team All-Pac-12 selection Jaylen Brown. The forward is contributing 15.0 ppg and 5.5 rpg, as well as over two assists per game. Junior guard Jordan Mathews averages 13.2 ppg and has made 86 3-pointers – the second-highest season total in school history. Forward Ivan Rabb, a Pac-12 All-Freshman and second-team All-Pac-12 choice, adds 12.5 ppg (62.2 FG%) and 8.5 rpg, while junior guard Jabari Bird pours in 10.4 ppg and is shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point distance.
For head coach Cuonzo Martin, this is the second time he has directed his squad to the NCAA Tournament, having guided Tennessee to the Sweet 16 in 2014. In addition, he took Missouri State to the National Invitation tournament in 2011 and Tennessee to the NIT in both 2012 and 2013. His first Missouri State squad in 2010 played in the Collegeinsider.com Tournament.
Cal is 20-18 all-time in NCAA Tournament games, including a national championship in 1959, and the Bears own a 12-6 mark in opening-round contests. In Cal’s most recent time in the field, the Bears, as a 12 seed, defeated No. 5 UNLV, 64-61, before falling to No. 4 Syracuse, 66-60.