In past years, the euphoria that gripped a team making the Sweet 16 was accompanied by something else: Travel.
When USC made the Sweet 16 in 2007, it played Arkansas and Texas in Spokane, Wash., the first two games and then flew East Rutherford, N.J., to face North Carolina.
In 2001, the Trojans beat Oklahoma State and Boston College in Uniondale, N.Y., spent a day in New York City, then took a bus to Philadelphia to face Kentucky and Duke.
USC is currently confined to the NCAA bubble in Indianapolis. In some ways, it is better (no travel) but it comes without the fan interaction of past tournaments, which is worse.
If Hinkle Fieldhouse were sold-out Monday, it would have been amazing. Instead there were a smattering of USC fans (left part of photo) while Kansas sold out its small allotment (right part of photo).
Overall, it’s not great but I suspect it won’t matter to teams like USC, who do not have long NCAA traditions, especially if the Trojans beat Oregon and can say they made the Elite Eight for the first time in 20 years.
- I saw a few USC fans say Monday night to give Andy Enfield a new contract. Let’s relax on that. Enfield reached his first Sweet 16 with USC in his eighth season. Tim Floyd got to the Sweet 16 in his second season at USC.
Henry Bibby, a coach that anyone who played for could write a book on his self-sabotage methods, reached the Elite Eight in his sixth year.
Enfield makes around $3.5 million during a pandemic. And I don’t see a rush of schools offering him a job.
- It’s also misleading to note Enfield’s NCAA appearances are more than say, Bob Boyd, which I saw last week. As you know, Boyd could only make the NCAA Tournament if he finished ahead of UCLA and won the Pac-8.
If those rules existed today, USC would not have made the NCAA Tournament this season.
- All Hail the Pac-12!
With a 9-1 record through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Pac-12 equaled the third-best record for any league with five-or-more teams in the field since the tourney’s expansion in 1985:
2016 ACC – 12-1
2015 ACC – 11-1
2021 Pac-12 – 9-1
1990 ACC – 9-1
1989 Big Ten – 9-1
1985 ACC – 9-1
- Pac-12 teams did not just go 9-1 through the first two rounds but had eight wins by double figures and an average margin of +13.1 points, which is the fifth-largest of any league with five-or-more teams in the field since the tourney’s expansion in 1985:
1993 ACC – +16.3 (9-2 record)
1996 Big East – +14.4 (8-2)
2001 Pac-12 – +14.0 (8-1)
2009 Big East – +13.5 (11-2)
2021 Pac-12 – +13.1 (9-1)