The snub still stings.
On Monday, a day after USC learned it was not among the 68 teams selected to compete in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, coach Andy Enfield continued to express shock and disappointment over the Trojans’ exclusion.
“The feeling is the same,” Enfield said after a brief practice. “It doesn’t go away in a day because we should be in the NCAA tournament.”
USC (23-11) will play North Carolina Asheville (21-12) on Tuesday in a National Invitation Tournament opener at the Galen Center.
Whether the Trojans will be inspired to play remains to be determined.
Players did not meet with media Sunday after the NCAA tournament selection show and Enfield would not make them available Monday.
“Anything that comes from our program needs to come from the head coach and that's me,” Enfield said. “So I'll be speaking to the media from here on out.”
USC placed second in the Pac-12 Conference regular-season standings before making a run to the conference tournament championship game.
Arizona (27-7) earned an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament after winning the conference tournament title game. UCLA (21-11), which tied for third in the Pac-12, and Arizona State (20-11), which tied for eighth and lost in the first round of the conference tournament, were awarded at-large bids.
With an RPI of 34, the Trojans are the highest-ranked major conference team to be left out of the NCAA tournament since it was expanded to 68 teams in 2011.
“It’s unfortunate,” Enfield said. “It’s very disappointing and the heartbreaking thing is when you look at the players.”
On Monday, Enfield had yet to determine a lineup for Tuesday’s game.
“We really haven’t thought about how we’ll approach it,” he said, adding that some players could be a game-time decision as to whether they play.
Junior forward Chimezie Metu, who averages 15.7 points and 7.4 rebounds a game, is projected as a first-round pick in this year’s NBA draft. It’s possible that Metu could sit out the NIT to avoid injury.
“Whoever says they want to play, they’ll play,” Enfield said. “I think there are certain risks but at the same time we want to try to go compete.”
USC vs. NORTH CAROLINA ASHEVILLE
When: Tuesday, 8 p.m. PDT.
Where: Galen Center.
On the air: TV: ESPN2; Radio: 830.
Update: USC earned a No. 1 seeding in the 32-team NIT. The Trojans have won six of their last eight games. North Carolina Asheville, seeded fourth, won the regular-season Big South Conference title but was upset in a conference tournament semifinal. The Bulldogs have won 10 of their last 13 games and are led by Ahmad Thomas and MaCio Teague, who average 16.6 and 16.5 points a game, respectively.