USC and Providence are the main event on the NCAA tournament’s second night.
The NCAA tournament’s second pair of games will be played on Wednesday night in Dayton. These games are the last two in the tournament’s First Four, and after they’re finished, the field will be pared to 64. First-round play starts Thursday.
The first game on Wednesday is a matchup of two No. 16 seeds, and the second is between two No. 11 seeds. The 16s are UC Davis and North Carolina Central. The winner of that game will advance in the Midwest region to face No. 1 Kansas.
The 11th seeds, playing about 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game, are USC and Providence. That winner advances in the East region and will face No. 6 SMU in the first round, in what should be a pretty good game.
The First Four can be a memorable event for the 16th seeds involved, because it gives them a chance to win a Big Dance game before the harsh reality awaiting them in the first round. For the 11th seeds, it might feel more like a nuisance, as it sets them back before a winnable game a couple of days later. Those are the breaks.
Here’s the full schedule for Wednesday night:
North Carolina Central vs. UC Davis:
6:40 p.m. ET, truTV
Providence vs. USC
approx. 9:10 p.m., truTV
Both games take place at UD Arena, the home of the Dayton Flyers. Dayton has long been the site for NCAA tournament play-in games, dating back to before the tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011. It’s a cool atmosphere for college basketball, and some of these games have been really good ones.
The NC Central-UC Davis game tilts on paper toward NC Central. The MEAC champion Eagles play excellent field goal defense, and the Aggies are not a good shooting team. If NCCU can force as many bricks as it should, it’ll get through the game just fine.
Providence-USC shapes up like a tossup. The Trojans have a markedly better offense, but Providence plays better defense. So if the numbers are high, that’s likely to mean good things for USC. A shot-bricking struggle would set up preferably for the Friars.
The Trojans’ coach is Andy Enfield, who achieved national fame during Florida Gulf Coast’s Cinderella tournament run in 2013. Enfield had a bad first two years at USC, but he’s now brought the Trojans to the Dance two seasons in a row.