2011 NCAA Tournament First Four – Southwest Region
#11 VCU Rams vs. #11 USC Trojans, University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH
Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: truTV
Opening Line: USC -4
Current Line: USC -4
Opening Total: 125.5
Current Total: 127
Money Line: USC -205 / VCU +175
The highest-profile matchup of the First Four takes place on Wednesday at the University of Dayton Arena when the 11th-seeded VCU Rams (23-11) take on the 11th-seeded USC Trojans (19-14). The winner gets a Southwest Region second-round matchup with #6 Georgetown on Friday at the United Center in Chicago.
VCU and USC (-4) are both capable of upsetting the Hoyas but will need to focus on beating each other first before advancing. The Rams were a controversial choice by the selection committee as the third team to get invited to the Big Dance out of the Colonial Athletic Conference while the Trojans were the fourth team picked out of the Pac-10 Conference.
Southern Cal went 10-8 in Pac-10 play during the regular season but likely earned the at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with a 62-60 victory at Washington in the finale followed by a 70-56 rout of #5 California in the conference tourney. The fourth-seeded Trojans also played a tight game with top seed Arizona in the semifinals before losing, 67-62. They had beaten the Wildcats 65-57 on February 24 during a four-game winning streak both straight-up and against the spread.
Virginia Commonwealth also made a fairly successful run in the Colonial Athletic Conference tourney but ultimately fell short in its quest for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The fourth-seeded Rams finished the regular season with a 12-6 mark against Colonial opponents and knocked out top seed George Mason in a dominant 79-63 victory in the semifinals of the conference tourney as 5-point underdogs.
Even though VCU lost to Old Dominion 70-65 in the conference championship game, the selection committee still felt three teams with at least 23 wins from the Colonial deserved to go dancing. The Rams almost pulled off a big upset the last time they made it to the NCAA tournament in 2009, losing to another Pac-10 school in UCLA, 65-64. They are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight games overall, and the total has gone UNDER in five of their past seven.
USC also last made it to the Big Dance that year, advancing to the second round before losing 74-69 to eventual runner-up Michigan State. The Trojans had topped Boston College 72-55 in the first round and were not eligible for the NCAA tournament in 2010, which was head coach Kevin O’Neill’s first year at the school. O’Neill was suspended for the rest of the Pac-10 tournament after getting involved in an altercation with Arizona fans last Thursday but has since been reinstated.
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