In their 100+ year history, the Cal Golden Bears basketball program has had many successful runs in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Bears first appeared in the Big Dance in 1946, but became a consistent presence in the late 1950s which was highlighted by a National Championship title in 1959. Overall, Cal has made the tournament over 15 times, winning over 19 games, and multiple Final Four appearances.
The Golden Bears rose to national prominence when they were coached by Pete Newell in the 1950s. Newell led California to four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament which included back-to-back runs to the Final Four. After 1960, Cal’s appearance in the NCAA Tournament was very inconsistent until Ben Braun took over as head coach in 1996. The Golden Bears reached the Sweet Sixteen in Braun’s first season and made the tournament four more times under Braun’s watch.
California reached the pinnacle in 1959 as they defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers for their lone National Championship title. The Bears won 71-70 behind 20 points from Denny Fitzpatrick. California won the game despite future NBA legend Jerry West scoring 28 points with 11 rebounds.
Cal Golden Bears Recent NCAA Tourament History
In 2013, the Golden Bears entered the NCAA Tournament as the number 12 seed and defeated UNLV 64-61 in the first round before losing to the number 4 seed in Syracuse 66-60. The Golden Bears were led by forward Richard Solomon who scored 22 points and added 14 rebounds in defeat against the Orange. Syracuse would eventually advance to the Final Four before losing to the Michigan Wolverines.