Bracketology big board: the teams immediately next to USC on the seed list
The NCAA Tournament is days away, and Selection Sunday will be on March 12 as the final teams are revealed for the Big Dance.
The USC Trojans are hanging around in the conversation, and Joe Lunardi of ESPN has them as a 10 seed once again in his latest update on March 7. This time, USC faces Duke in the first round.
The Pac-12 Tournament begins on Wednesday and USC plays Thursday, but this is the time when a lot can change depending on the results of conference tournaments from across the country.
Here are the teams right around the same range as USC in the latest bracketology update. These are the teams fighting the Trojans for one of the last several at-large bids.
Yes, if USC wins one game at the Pac-12 Tournament, it is good to go for the NCAA Tournament and the bubble questions disappear. However, if USC doesn’t win its Pac-12 quarterfinal on Thursday, the Trojans might need at least a few of their bubble competitors to stumble, just to make sure the Men of Troy don’t fall all the way out of the field.
Consult our complete bubble guide for the next several days. Meanwhile, get a look at the teams next to USC on the projected seed list:
FIRST FOUR OUT: OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS
Mar 4, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Jaylon Tylson (20) takes a rebound from Oklahoma State Cowboys forward Tyreek Smith (23) in the second half at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Oklahoma State is the first team out of the latest bracketology update.
FIRST FOUR OUT: WISCONSIN BADGERS
Mar. 2, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Max Klesmit (11) talks with head coach Greg Gard during the second half of their game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The Badgers are right there, and Greg Gard’s team needs to win at least two games, maybe three, in the Big Ten Tournament.
FIRST FOUR OUT: ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS
Jan 26, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Bobby Hurley reacts to a jump-ball call by the officials during the second half against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Bobby Hurley’s future is uncertain, and now Arizona State is on the cusp of an NCAA Tournament spot if it can deliver a good week at the Pac-12 Tournament. The Sun Devils likely need to beat Oregon State and USC to get in. Beating Oregon State, by itself, does very little. ASU needs at least two wins to have a realistic shot. If ASU wins three games, it will be in the field.
FIRST FOUR OUT: NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
Feb 19, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts and North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis interact before the first half of the game at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports
The Tar Heels enter the ACC Tournament needing at least two wins after a season-ending loss to Duke.
Beating Louisville or Boston College doesn’t move the needle. UNC must then beat Virginia in a possible ACC quarterfinal on Thursday to really move up the seed list. Some think Carolina has to win three games and make the ACC Tournament final.
10 SEED: NC STATE WOLFPACK
Feb 28, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Jarkel Joiner (1) controls the ball in front of Duke Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach (3) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 71-67. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
The ACC is tough, but NC State is in the field for now as a 10-seed. A loss to Virginia Tech or Notre Dame in Wednesday’s ACC Tournament second round could create an uncomfortable Selection Sunday for the Wolfpack. A win on Wednesday secures State a spot in the field.
10 SEED: BOISE STATE BRONCOS
Feb 28, 2023; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos guard Marcus Shaver Jr. (10) during the second half against the San Diego State Aztecs at ExtraMile Arena. Boise State upsets San Diego State 66-60. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Boise State defeated San Diego State in the final week of the regular season. The Broncos have likely punched their ticket to the Big Dance. If they lost their Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal on Thursday, they could fall to the First Four in Dayton.
10 SEED: PROVIDENCE FRIARS
Mar 4, 2023; Providence, Rhode Island, USA; Seton Hall Pirates forward KC Ndefo (13) is fouled by Providence Friars guard Corey Floyd Jr. (14) during the second half at Amica Mutual Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Providence has been in and out of the top 25, but the Friars have lost three of the last four games to fall out of the rankings. Nonetheless, a win against UConn in the Big East Tournament should solidify their bid.
11 SEED: PITTSBURGH PANTHERS
Mar 1, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers forward Blake Hinson (2) drives to the basket in the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Another ACC team? Yes. Pitt is 21-10 and 14-6 in ACC play and plays their first ACC Tournament game on Wednesday. Losing that game, to Georgia Tech or Florida State, will create a very anxious and stressful Selection Sunday. A win should wrap up a bid for Pitt.
11 SEED: RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS
Mar 5, 2023; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights fans reacts during the first half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Jersey Mike’s Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Rutgers is 18-13 and 10-10 in Big Ten play, but their win against Purdue on the road is holding their resume in place. The Scarlet Knights are listed as a “Last Four In” team, playing Nevada in the First Four.
Rutgers has to beat Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament. The Scarlet Knights almost certainly will fall out of the field with a loss.
11 SEED: NEVADA WOLFPACK
Feb 27, 2023; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack head coach Steve Alford reacts against the Wyoming Cowboys during the second half at Arena-Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
Recognize this man? It’s Steve Alford, who is now the head coach at Nevada. The Wolfpack are 22-9 and 12-6 in MWC play and listed as a First Four game against Rutgers. Nevada must beat San Jose State in the Mountain West quarterfinals on Thursday. It might then need to beat San Diego State on Friday in the MWC semifinals to secure a bid.
11 SEED: PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
Mar 5, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lion players sing their alma mater following the completion of the game against the Maryland Terrapins at Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
Penn State is 19-12 and 10-10 in Big Ten play, and the Nittany Lions have won five of the last six to surge into the field. PSU could fully lock up a bid by beating Illinois at the Big Ten Tournament, but if the Nittany Lions lose, they are probably still in the field due to recent wins at Northwestern and at home versus Maryland.
11 SEED: MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
Mar 4, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores forward Myles Stute (10) drives baseline against Mississippi State Bulldogs forward D.J. Jeffries (0) during the second half at Memorial Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi State is 20-11 but 8-10 in SEC play. After losing eight of nine, the Bulldogs have won eight of the last 11 games. They are playing a First Four game. They must beat Florida in the SEC Tournament to get in. They might also need to beat Alabama in the quarterfinals.
11 SEED: UTAH STATE AGGIES
Mar 1, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Utah State Aggies guard Sean Bairstow (2) reacts with the bench to hitting a 3-point shot against the UNLV Rebels in the second half at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Utah State is another MWC right on the cusp of the tournament. The Aggies are 24-7 and 13-5 in MWC play, and they are projected to play in a First Four game against Mississippi State.
USU must win its Mountain West quarterfinal on Thursday to get in. It might need to beat Boise State in Friday’s potential MWC semifinal to secure a bid.
Keep this link handy as a resource for the next several days leading up to Selection Sunday at Trojans Wire: