The Orlando Classic finalized the field for next year's tournament at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort. The 2015 Thanksgiving weekend event added Monmouth to round out the eight-team field. The Hawks will be the ultimate underdog in a stacked tournament that will feature the USC men's basketball team.
Along with the Trojans and Hawks will be Xavier, Iowa, Alabama, Wichita State, Dayton and Notre Dame. Half of the future field made the NCAA Tournament last season with Xavier, Iowa, Wichita State and Dayton all in the field of 68 last year.
Alabama is off to a strong start this season under head coach Anthony Grant and could be a NCAA Tournament squad this year. The same could be true for Notre Dame, who got back leading scorer Jerian Grant this season after he was academically ineligible for the spring semester last year. The Fighting Irish have begun this season 6-1, but are just starting to get into the meat of their schedule with a Big 10/ACC Challenge matchup with Michigan State on Wednesday.
Iowa is 5-2 this year and also has a noteworthy Big 10/ACC Challenge battle upcoming on Wednesday against North Carolina. Xavier is 5-2 and has a potential preview of an Orlando Classic matchup next year on Saturday when they take on Alabama.
Dayton has also started strong with a 4-1 record this season and will compete for the Atlantic 10 title while Wichita State has become a perennial mid-major power the last few years under Gregg Marshall. The Trojans are 2-1 all-time against the Shockers, but all three of those games came before Marshall took over in 2007. The last time the teams met was a 60-56 victory for the cardinal and gold in 2004.
The most intriguing matchup for USC is the potential of playing the Fighting Irish -- the Trojans' intersectional football rival. Crazily, USC hasn't played Notre Dame since 1994 -- 20 years! The football rivals have only played hoops nine times, but played six years in a row from 1989 to the final meeting in 1994 -- George Raveling's final season as head coach. The Trojans hold a 5-4 advantage and have won three of the last four.
Against the other opponents, USC has a combined 6-9 record. The Trojans have never played Monmouth.
USC has most recently played Dayton, who it has met and defeated in overtime in both of the last two seasons. Those are the only two times the Trojans and Flyers have met. USC also met Xavier last season, facing off in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas. The Trojans defeated the Musketeers to even up the all-time series at one win apiece.
Alabama and Iowa have had USC's number all-time, but haven't faced the Trojans since the 1980s. Alabama holds a 3-1 advantage after winning the last three matchups in 1973, 1983 and 1988. Against the Hawkeyes, USC is 2-5 all-time after losing their last matchup 30 years ago by a single point.
Barring any transfers, when USC participates in the 2015 Orlando Classic it will feature a roster with at least six top 100 recruits and a team maturing with a strong junior class and four experienced sophomore. The Trojans will also add freshmen Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright.