USC was not among the 36 teams chosen Sunday for an at-large berth in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, despite a 23-11 record, second-place finish in the Pac-12 Conference and reaching the final of the conference tournament.
“Our Players Deserved To Be In The NCAA Tournament”
“Our team is very disappointed we did not get in the NC double-A tournament,” coach Andy Enfield said. “If all that matters is the quality of your best win or two on your schedule … then we should set the field in December after the out-of-conference (portion of the schedule) was complete.
“They basically discredited our entire league schedule, and no matter what we or some of the other teams in our league did during the Pac-12 or the conference tournament did not obviously matter. We’re very disappointed. Our players deserved to be in the NCAA tournament.”
NCAA Chair Explains Decision
Bruce Rasmussen, the director of athletics at Creighton University and the chair of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Committee, told reporters on a conference call that “Southern Cal had a nice year,” but only had two victories over teams in the NCAA tournament field — New Mexico State, which was seeded 47th in the 68-team tournament, and Cal State Fullerton, which was seeded 61st.
“So when you look at Southern Cal’s resume, they had a lot of wins,” Rasmussen said. “When we were trying to determine who should be in the tournament we had a lot of teams that were in that area. Southern Cal had a lot of discussion. They had a lot of intense discussion.
“But we look at how teams did against tournament-caliber teams, either teams in the tournament or teams we feel are tournament-caliber teams. And they had two wins against teams in the field.”
UCLA Coach “Very Surprised”
UCLA coach Steve Alford said he was “very surprised” the Trojans failed to receive an invitation.
“I think it’s unfortunate for our league,” Alford said crosstown at Pauley Pavilion. “It is what you do throughout the entire year and most of our league teams were so much better in January and February than what they were in November and December because there was so much turnaround.”
USC No.1 Seed In National Invitation Tournament
USC was among four teams receiving No. 1 seeds in the 32-team National Invitation Tournament, and will face UNC-Asheville (21-12) Tuesday at Galen Center in a first-round game.
The Bulldogs were an automatic qualifier for the NIT as a regular- season conference champion that failed to receive an invitation to the NCAA tournament. UNC-Asheville won the Big South Conference regular-season championship, but lost to fifth-seeded Liberty, 69-64, in a semifinal of the Big South Men’s Basketball Championship March 2.