Like everyone else, when I heard that USC’s basketball team, a team that won 23 games this season, finished a solid second in the Pac-12 Conference, made the conference tournament finals AND had a very good RPI of 34…
Were not chosen as one of the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament – in other words, were completely snubbed, being forced to accept a berth in the National Invitational Tournament, better known as the NIT; the ultimate consolation event in sports,
I was shocked!
And this coming from an alumnus of the Trojans’ crosstown rival – who DID make the Big Dance!
After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided that in my opinion there was one overwhelming factor in this pronounced snub.
One main reason why Andy Enfield’s cardinal-and-gold squad wasn’t invited to March Madness:
Saturday, March 3, 2018.
UCLA Bruins 83 – USC Trojans 72
That was a game where pretty much everybody, me included, expected ‘SC to win because it was a home game vs a crosstown rival who they had lost to in a close fashion a few weeks before.
IN MY OPINION: The game that kept USC out of the NCAA Tournament – the Trojans’ 83-72 loss to UCLA on March 3rd. Video courtesy of YouTube.
Which meant they were looking for revenge in an extreme way, in front of a Trojan Family which I’m sure was quite hostile to their Westwood counterparts.
When UCLA won that rivalry clash, coming from behind to sweep that season series from the Trojans, I firmly believe that the NCAA selection committee paid particular attention to that and the fact that USC didn’t really have any signature wins, beating only two teams that are in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
When it comes down to it, I am absolutely convinced that if USC had beaten the Bruins that Saturday night at the Galen Center, those Trojans would be getting ready for the Big Dance now and UCLA would be in the NIT.
In other words, that crosstown rivalry match-up was, for all intents and purposes, a play-in game.
There’s been some speculation that this snub, at least in part, came from the FBI investigation stemming (in ‘SC’s case) from now-former assistant coach Tony Bland’s involvement in bribery and Chimeze Metu getting accused of allegedly taking $2,000.
But according to an article in today’s Los Angeles Times, Bruce Rasmussen, the chairman of the NCAA selection committee, stated that that controversy “…had absolutely nothing to do with (USC not getting into the tournament).”
As such, I’m right with the Trojan Family in the opinion that USC got absolutely screwed.
And I feel sympathy for them.
Metu, Jordan McLaughlin, Elijah Stewart, Jonah Matthews, and the rest of those Trojans deserved better for the good season they had on the hard court.
As for UCLA and the other men’s and women’s teams from SoCal that did get invited to the Big Dance, a guide/preview/predictions article pertaining to that will appear on this site tomorrow, so…
Watch for it!