USC basketball learned their NCAA tournament seeding and Round of 64 opponent on Sunday with the future holding huge challenges for a deep run.
Well, there's a reason USC basketball wanted to win the Pac-12 Tournament. Seeding in the NCAA Tournament can be absolutely brutal if you give the committee license to punish you.
The Trojans ended up as a No. 6 seed, which is tied for the best since 2008. Making the tournament in the first place is a victory, while the seeding is reward for a strong 2020-21 campaign.
Unfortunately, USC won't exactly have it easy.
USC basketball is a No. 6 seed on a tough side of the bracket
The Trojans will face the winner of Wichita State and Drake's play-in game in the Round of 64. Should they make it through that unscathed, they would likely face No. 3-seed Kansas in the Round of 32. That's not exactly a smooth road to the Sweet 16.
Should USC pull off a big upset, they could look forward to playing No. 2-see Iowa, No. 7-seed Oregon, No. 10 seed VCU or No. 15-seed Grand Canyon. The first of those is the most likely, but Oregonis an interesting team to watch on that side of the bracket. In a twist of fate, the Trojans and Ducks, who were both upset during the Pac-12 Tournament, could meet in the Big Dance.
Of course, that supposes the Trojans get hot at the right time. Wichita State finished first in the American in the regular season but was bounced from the AAC tournament in the semifinals. They are No. 72 in NET rankings. Drake went 25-4 this season and lost to Loyola Chicago in the MVC tournament final. They are No. 45.
Kansas, who sit No. 11 in NET, had to withdraw from the Big 12 tournament because of COVID-19 protocols, so they're a bit of a wildcard. If they're good to go for March Madness, they'll be a formidable opponent since they finished the season in strong form.
On the other hand, the COVID-19 break might have taken the wind out of their sails. USC could take advantage of that if they were to meet.
Not that it gets any better from there. The Trojans are on the same side of the bracket as top-seed Gonzaga.