Trojans are back in NCAA tournament, face Providence in first round

It has been five seasons since the men’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament, but the Trojans are finally returning to the Big Dance.

The selection committee named the Trojans (21-12) as an 8th-seed in March Madness in the East region, where they will take on Providence (23-10) in the first round on Thursday in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The winner will likely play No. 1 seed North Carolina in the second round.

In a renaissance season, USC finished with a 21-12 record, its first 20-win season since 2009. The Men of Troy were 9-9 in conference play, notching their first non-losing record in the Pac-12 since the 2010-2011 campaign. In addition, the team started the season 15-0 at home for the first time in school history and their 16 home wins tied a record set back in 1961.

The 2015-2016 campaign was filled with signature moments. The Trojans beat UCLA three times, upset No. 20 Wichita State last November in the AdvoCare Invitational, pulled out a thrilling four-overtime victory over No. 7 Arizona on Jan. 9 and made a 15-point second half comeback to defeat Colorado on Feb. 17.

USC was bolstered by the additions of freshmen forwards Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright along with the growth of sophomore guards Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart, junior guards Julian Jacobs and Katin Reinhardt and junior forward Nikola Jovanovic.

Jacobs was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference First Team while McLaughlin was named honorable mention. Boatwright received an honorable mention on the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.

USC was eliminated in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament, falling to Utah 80-72 last Thursday after beating UCLA the day before.

The game against Providence will begin at the conclusion of the North Carolina game at 4:20 p.m. PST and will be broadcast on TBS.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 6:54 p.m. to include the location of the game against Providence.