March 13, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans forward Strahinja Gavrilovic (41) react while leaving the court after the game against the Utah Utes in the first round of the Pac 12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Utah defeated Southern California 69-66. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The USC Trojans finished their season Wednesday night falling in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. The three-point loss to Utah popped the Trojans bubble ending their upstart chance of making the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans finished the season with three-straight losses, faltering in a key opportunity to continue postseason play in the non-traditional tournaments like the CIT and the NIT.
First and foremost the NIT Tournament looks for the best 32 teams to not make the NCAA Tournament. These teams consist of the bubble breakers, mid-major monsters and the power-six conference letdown teams. Based on this formula, the USC Trojans could make a legitimate case to apply for the NIT Tournament, but the team’s 1-6 record against ranked opponents makes their bid seem rather unlikely.
Although the Trojans hold the top-ranked BPI, thanks to their challenging non-conference schedule, teams do not get credit for consistently losing to elite competition.The sub-.500 Trojans will officially end their season because the team did not qualify for the CIT Tournament, that culminates April 2nd.
The College Inside Postseason Tournament is a pay-for-play tournament that rewards 32 teams with strong resumes, who are looking for another opportunity to join the exciting March Madness culture. This tournament rewards teams from many mid-major programs with teams like Mercer and Utah State meeting in last years final. Portland point guard Damien Lillard participated in last years CIT, and performed quite remarkably cementing an outstanding senior season for Weber State.
Teams from conferences ranging from the Atlantic-10 all the way to the West Coast Conference have fared quite well in recent memory, as part of the tournaments goal combining business and basketball success. Despite the Trojans strong play in the Pac-12 conference, the teams inconsistent play cost them a shot at the 2013 CIT. This means the abysmal season loaded with drama, coaching changes and disappointing finishes will officially end.
Strahinja Gavrilovic will be a name to keep an eye out on this summer, who will work to improve his game as the Trojans top prospect moving forward. JT Terrell and Byron Wesley will return as the leading scorers for next year’s club, both averaging over 10 PPG for the Trojans last season.
Fans should now look to the summer to answer some crucial questions- first of and foremost securing a strong recruiting class- by holding onto four-star recruit point guard Kendall Yancy-Harris. The Trojans will also continue their search for the next head coach who can attempt to improve the reputation of the school’s basketball program, getting this roster over the .500 mark next season.