The Providence Friars are a team that many thought may not even sniff the NIT this season after losing two outstanding scorers to the NBA draft. They bounced back and snuck in the field via the play-in game.
USC head coach Andy Enfield hopes to bring his past ‘Dunk City’ NCAA Tournament success he had when he lead Florida Gulf Coast on a Cinderella run.
Which team will move on to play SMU in the first round?
Who do you think will win? We help you fill out your bracket.
Providence was expected to be this good heading into the season after losing Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil to the NBA Draft. The Friars had a successful year, but struggled against the better teams in the Big East. They do have wins against Butler and Creighton, but they mostly flew under the radar. The Friars play very good defense, so they could make it interesting if that skills shows up in Dayton.
The USC Trojans are making it the NCAA Tournament for the first time since hiring ex-Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield. They were undefeated before the Pac-12 portion of their schedule hit. They are better than their record suggest. They had to play for a stretch without Bennie Boatwright. They come into this game healthy and at full strength.
The Trojans were kind of lost in the Pac-12 once the conference schedule started. In early-February, USC had to play in three-straight games against the #4, #5 & #6 ranked teams. The Pac-12 was top-heavy and USC is better for playing that schedule. I think USC will try to push the pace on offense and steal a win in Dayton.
Prediction: #11 USC Trojans
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.