USC basketball can dream big, based on the 2023 NCAA Tournament

Expectations are one thing, dreams another. Fans at long-suffering basketball programs shouldn’t expect Final Fours to magically emerge out of nothing. Programs have to build toward excellence and consistently raise their floor. USC is in the midst of a slow but encouraging process which aims to do just that.

The Trojans were not expected to be an annual NCAA Tournament team when Andy Enfield took over the program 10 years ago. Now? They are. The floor has been raised, and it must continue to be raised in the coming years. The Trojans shouldn’t be expected to make the Final Four in 2024, and they shouldn’t be expected to make the Final Four in any season until they have real proof of concept.

However, USC will have a roster in 2024 which should give the Trojans a chance to be competitive at a higher level. If they get a few breaks, who knows what can happen?

The 2023 NCAA Tournament is giving hope to programs which have rarely — if ever — tasted ultimate glory in college basketball. Not having been to the Final Four for over half a century (or at any point in history) isn’t a firm barrier to entry.

Michigan State’s loss to Kansas State on Thursday guaranteed that one team with no Final Four appearance in the past 58 years will be part of the festivities in Houston in early April.

Kansas State has not been to the Final Four since 1964. Florida Atlantic has never been to the Final Four and had never won an NCAA Tournament game before this year. One of those two teams will be in the Final Four.

Expecting Final Fours at USC? Unrealistic. Hoping Final Fours can emerge? It’s more realistic than it seemed one year ago, that’s for sure.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire