Selection Sunday was hectic for the Trojans, who feared not making the NCAA Tournament before a USC vs Providence matchup was announced. The oddsmakers see it as a close one.
The Trojans not only drew a rematch of last year’s first round matchup with Providence, but they’ll have to do it in Dayton as part of the First Four, where USC lost to VCU in 2011. A No. 11 seed in the East Region, along with a date with No. 6 SMU –whom Andy Enfield’s team beat in November– will be on the line Wednesday night.
As you’d expect in a play-in game, USC vs Providence is pretty even. The Friars (20-12) finished tied for third in the Big East and sit just two spots ahead of USC (24-9) in the NCAA’s 1-68 seeding list. Vegas agrees.
According to Vegas Insider’s consensus betting line, the game opened as a pick ’em on Sunday. The line has fluctuated since, with USC being a one-point favorite as of Monday morning.
The Trojans are 6-6 both at the betting window and on the scoreboard away from the Galen Center, while Providence has a 7-4 record against the spread on the road, to go with a 4-7 mark straight-up.
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Last year, USC fell 70-69 in a No. 8 vs. No. 9 first round tilt of the NCAA Tournament. After countless opportunities to put Providence away, the Trojans were done in by a Rodney Bullock bucket with less than two seconds on the clock.
Since then, both teams have taken a slight step backwards and are on drastically different trajectories.
USC struggled down the stretch despite opening the season 14-0, while Providence took a bit to get used to life after former star Kris Dunn. After being left for dead in early February, the Friars surged late with a six-game winning streak which included impressive wins over Butler and Creighton.
Wednesday night’s game will tip-off at 6:10 p.m. PT and be televised on TruTV, in addition to being streamed on March Madness Live.