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ESPN: Trojans ‘should be in’ NCAA tourney

Can the Trojans finish strong with five games left to go?

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Tulsa Photo by David Klutho/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Trojans men’s basketball team is a phenomenal 18-3 this season and have only one blemish on their record since the start of the new year. They currently sit atop the Pac-12 with a 12-2 record within the conference and are in the middle of riding a seven-game win-streak.

After losing former big man Onyeka Okongwu to this past year’s draft — he went sixth-overall to the Atlanta Hawks — I don’t think many fans believed the team will be able to contend as well as they did during the 2019-2020 season. Nonetheless, here they are on the cusp of making the NCAA tournament.

Per ESPN’s John Gasaway, the Trojans are among the three teams he has pegged from the Pac-12 that “should be in” when it comes to the tournament. They are joined by both UCLA (14-5) and Colorado (16-6).

Here’s what Gasaway had to say about the Trojans and their outlook going forward.

“The Trojans are 13-1 in calendar year 2021 and have been climbing the seed lines in mock brackets that entire time. Now Andy Enfield’s team finds itself earmarked for a No. 4 seed, with lock status here at Bubble Watch likely to follow very soon. Relative to the respective conference means, USC’s defense has been almost as good against the Pac-12 as Michigan’s has been against the Big Ten. Evan Mobley gets his fair share of the headlines, but it’s truly been a team effort in LA. Tahj Eddy has lifted his game in Pac-12 play, Isaiah Mobley has outperformed his younger brother on the offensive glass and as a team SC is limiting conference opponents to 44% shooting on their 2s.”

The 17th-ranked Trojans have five more games to go in the regular season, including contests at both Colorado and UCLA. Catch their next game at home this Saturday against the Wildcats of Arizona.