The USC Trojans have defeated the Providence Friars 75-71 in the First Four of the 2017 NCAA Tournament and now the Trojans move on to Tulsa, Oklahoma to take on the SMU Mustangs in the round of 64. the Mustangs and Trojans will tip off on Friday, March 17 in the BOK Center at 12:10pm pt on TruTV.
The Mustangs are the champions of the American Athletic Conference after having defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 71-56 in the conference championship game. SMU is a six seed in the tournament though many believed they could have and perhaps should have been seeded higher. At the end of the regular season the Associated Press ranked SMU #12 and USA Today ranked them number 15 in the nation. SMU boasted an impressive 30-4 record overall and a 17-1 record in the AAC.
USC has already defeated SMU this season:
SMU is certainly an impressive squad worthy of their seeding but the Trojans defeated the Mustangs 78-73 at the Galen Center back in November of 2016. Benny Boatwright led the Trojans that night with 17 points and going 4-7 from behind the arc. SMU is a quality win for the Trojans without which USC almost certainly would not have made the Tournament.
Since that game back in November the Mustangs have gone on to win 30 total games this season and set the program record for most wins in SMU history. Ken Pomeroy has SMU ranked 11th in his rankings and the Mustangs are 12th in the nation in RPI. The Trojans are 61 and 41 respectively in those two rankings.
A Long Journey for the Trojans:
The Trojans have also logged plenty of miles in the last week and half with trips to Las Vegas, Dayton, Ohio, and Tulsa Oklahoma. When the Trojans tip off against the Mustangs it will be their 4th game in 10 days. When asked on Tuesday about whether the team would be able to keep the intensity up over this grueling schedule, both Benny Boatwright and Jordan McGloughlin were confident that their team was ready to compete and win.
The Kings of the Comeback?
In Wednesday night’s game the Trojans trailed by 17 points before mounting a comeback victory 75-71 against the Providence Friars in the first four. Certainly against a team as good as SMU the Trojans cannot hope to drop to a double-digit deficit and still expect to comeback. While that seems intuitive USC does have 12 victories this season where they were down by 10 points or more. That is roughly half of all of their wins in the 2016-17 season.
We find out if the Trojans can pull off another victory Friday afternoon at 12:10 pt on TruTV.