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USC Makes NCAA Tournament

James Santelli |
March 13, 2011 | 4:16 p.m. PDT

Associate Sports Editor


Leading scorer Nikola Vucevic and his Trojans make the NCAA field (Shotgun Spratling)
Leading scorer Nikola Vucevic and his Trojans make the NCAA field (Shotgun Spratling)
The USC men's basketball team waited through a year of postseason sanctions in 2010; they could wait a couple more minutes to hear Greg Gumbel call their name.

CBS's selection show host eventually announced the Trojans would be an 11 seed in the Southwest bracket on Sunday, where they'll play Virginia Commonwealth of the CAA conference as part of the tournament's new "First Four" opening round of play.

The Men of Troy will travel to Dayton, OH on Wednesday to face the Rams, with the winner heading to Chicago on Friday to take on the sixth-seeded Georgetown Hoyas.

Kevin O'Neill will be coaching the Trojans in the tournament, after being reinstated by athletic director Pat Haden. O'Neill had been suspended for USC's game against Arizona after an incident with an Arizona booster.

Being lined up in one of the "First Four" games means the Trojans were actually one of the last four at-large teams to make the tournament field. USC, Virginia Commonwealth, UAB, and Clemson were the lucky four, leaving teams like Colorado, Saint Mary's, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Boston College and Harvard outside the field.

USC's case for a tournament bid was strong, though. Victories over fellow tournament teams Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Arizona and Washington helped their cause, as likely did the claim that most of their poor non-conference losses (Rider, Bradley and TCU) occured while point guard Jio Fontan was not eligible to play due to his transfer from Fordham.

Fans of the teams left out of the tournament will point to those losses (as well as two defeats at the hands of Oregon) and USC's rather low RPI of 67 as reasons the Trojans should not be dancing, but the selection committee felt SC's resume was strong enough to warrant a bid.

USC's matchup against the VCU Rams from University of Dayton Arena will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on TruTV.


James Santelli is also a contributor for Pittsburgh Sports Report. To reach James, click here. Follow him on Twitter, @JamesSantelli.



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