USC basketball heads into Selection Sunday on Bubble Watch, with at least one major bracketologist projecting the Trojans to miss out on the NCAA tournament.
The big news out of Saturday’s college basketball action revolved around Joe Lunardi’s bracket for ESPN, with USC sitting on the outside looking in.
Lunardi favored Rhode Island to the Trojans, as well as Kansas State, Syracuse and Wake Forest as the last four in.
The good news for USC is that very few bracket experts agree with Lunardi’s assessment on the Trojans’ tournament fate.
BracketMatrix.com, which compiles a wide range of brackets from around the web, lists USC with an average seeding of 11.17.
Of the 120 brackets aggregated by Bracket Matrix, the Trojans appear in 115 of them.
Among those brackets is CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, who rates USC particularly highly as a No. 9 seed. In that scenario, the Trojans would face Arkansas in Salt Lake City with No. 1 seed Gonzaga awaiting the winner, assuming they get by their first round match up.
Though other bracketologists agree with USC receiving a bid, most don’t have the them seeded so highly.
Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports projects the Trojans as a No. 11 seed with a play-in match up with Providence, which would make for quite the story line as the Friars knocked USC out of the tournament last year. If the Trojans were to get by them this time, they would face No. 6 seed Iowa State in Indianapolis.
CollegeSportsMadness.com agrees with the match up against Providence, but sets the two as a No. 12 seed play-in game with No. 5 seed SMU on the horizon.
Over at The Big Lead, Jason Lisk also lists USC as one of the First Four, facing off with Syracuse in the No. 12 seed play-in game. That’s an opinion also shared by Michael Beller of Sports Illustrated and Chris Dobbertean of SBNation.com.
After being knocked out of the Pac-12 Tournament in a hard-fought loss to UCLA on Thursday night, USC is hoping to be rewarded for posting the program’s highest win total since 2007 with 24 victories on the season. It’s just the sixth time in school history that the Trojans have notched so many wins.
Much of that win total came during an undefeated run in out of conference play, including a win over SMU at the Galen Center.
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However, bracketologists have noted USC’s relatively weak resume when it comes to out of conference strength of schedule as a negative against them.
In Pac-12 play, the Trojans reached 10 conference wins for the first time since 2011 despite playing without Bennie Boatwright for the first month of the conference season. After Boatwright’s return, USC lost consecutive games to Oregon, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State, though the first three of those came against teams ranked in the Top 6 in the country.
In the end, it’s the loss to ASU, who ranks outside of the RPI Top 100, that has USC sweating entering Selection Sunday.
Still, with most bracketologists projecting a bid, the Trojans have some hope to hold onto until the official bracket is announced at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday on CBS.