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After 24 minutes of anxious waiting and tension Sunday evening, the Penn men's basketball learned its NCAA fate. The Selection Committee handed the Quakers a No. 11 seed in the South region, pitting them against No. 6 seed California in the first round. In a concerted effort by the NCAA to keep teams close to home, Penn will remain in state, playing at the Mellon Center in Pittsburgh Friday night. The game will start 30 minutes following the conclusion of the Pittsburgh-Central Connecticut State game, which begins at 12:25 p.m.

Should the Quakers upset California (22-8 overall, 12-6 Pac 10), they would likely play Big East regular season champs Pittsburgh (27-5, 13-3 Big East) in its hometown on Sunday. When Penn's name flashed on the television screen, the Dunning Coaching Center -- jammed tight with players, coaches, alumni and members of the media -- erupted into loud cheers. A night after cutting down the nets at Lafayette, the Quakers were in high spirits and seemed pleased with their draw. "We're all pretty excited. Obviously we're close, so we'll have a nice fanbase," Penn senior Dan Solomito said. "I've seen [Cal] play a couple of times this year and I think we match up well with them." The first part of the CBS selection show, however, was filled with a surprising amount of tension. "I didn't know what it would be like, knowing that we already had the automatic," said sophomore Jeff Schiffner, who says he feels fine after his nasty spill against Yale. "It was nerve-wracking, waiting for your name to pop up there. Practically every time a 10, 11 or 12 seed was about to be called, the packed room went from dead silence to silent murmurs of "that's us" or "no way." Everybody breathed sighs of relief when Penn wasn't pitted against Florida and Illinois, the two teams that knocked off the Quakers in their last two NCAA appearances. When Pepperdine popped up as a No. 10 seed in the Midwest, everyone shifted in their seats when they saw that first "P." The suspense was almost unbearable. "I didn't think it would be nervewracking at all, but yeah, you see all these names pop up, you start wondering when you're going to come up, where you're going, who you're going to be playing," Penn freshman Tim Begley said. "I'm glad they didn't call our name right away, or else it would have taken the fun out of it." Most of the members of the team don't know a whole lot about California, a team that finished tied for second in an extremely competitive Pac 10 conference. But these Ivy Leaguers are certainly ready for the challenge. "I don't know much about Cal, but I know they're not a team we thought we'd be playing," said Quakers point guard Andrew Toole, anxious to make his first NCAA tournament appearance. "But they're not a team we're afraid to face." One member of the Quakers, however, has a bit more knowledge on Penn's first-round opponent. Koko Archibong, a native of Pasadena, Calif., played AAU ball with Brian Wethers and Shantay Legans, two of the top players on the Golden Bears. "It should be a pretty fast-moving game, but that's the way we like to play as well," said Archibong, fresh off a monster 21-point, 16-rebound game against Yale. "I like to think we're a pretty fast team compared to anybody." While that assessment may be overly ambitious, it shows just how confident the Quakers are heading into the Big Dance after a one-year hiatus. "We're just really excited to play on Friday. I think some guys wish we could play tomorrow," Toole said. "We just want to get out there and just get this thing started and keep playing basketball [the way] we've been playing for these past 10 games." This is what the Quakers had on their agenda from day one. The Ivy champs are ready to try to extend their 10-game winning streak and stir up some magic on the biggest stage of all. "It's great. Any time you're able to be in the tournament, it's the best feeling in the world," said Penn coach Fran Dunphy , who will be making his sixth NCAA appearance. "It's great for our guys. It's the best day of the year when you're in, it's the worst day of the year when you're not." Pack your bags and get your dancing shoes on -- the Quakers are headed to Pittsburgh.

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