OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Joe Shipp and eighth-seeded California open play in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament Thursday when it meets Julius Hodge and ninth-seeded North Carolina State in the first round.
Shipp averaged 20.3 points per game to lead California (21-8), which finished third in the Pac-10 Conference and earned its third straight at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Brian Wethers and center Amit Tamir are the Golden Bears' other two major weapons.
California has stumbled a bit down the stretch in alternating wins and losses in its last eight games. The Golden Bears went just 8-7 away from home.
North Carolina State (18-12) is just 2-7 against the tournament field and is making its second straight appearance. Last season, the Wolfpack defeated Michigan State before losing to Connecticut in the second round.
This is the first time that NC State is making consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament since five straight trips from 1985-89.
Hodge was the runner-up for Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year honors after averaging 17.8 points to lead the Wolfpack. NC State employs the "Princeton offense" to varying degrees of success and need Scooter Sherrill and Marcus Melvin to connect from the outside.
The Wolfpack struggled mightily away from home, compiling a 5-9 record.
The schools have never met and the winner will face Oklahoma or South Carolina State in the second round.