Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: 3 teams who saved their flailing seasons

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 15: (L-R) Jonah Mathews
DAYTON, OH - MARCH 15: (L-R) Jonah Mathews /
1 of 3

There have been several NCAA basketball teams who were down in the dumps to start the season but now have their sights set on the Final Four.

In a season as compact as the college basketball one, teams have to reverse course quickly or see their ship sink faster than the Titanic. A wide variety of teams, with expectations ranging from high to low, struggled out of the gate in 2017-18. It seemed as if their seasons would be lost to the dustbin of history.

But then, for a variety of reasons, the programs in this article turned their struggles into successes. Suddenly, they find themselves in the thick of the NCAA Tournament discussion, some at the highest levels.

Many people are quick to quit on teams that can’t get it going out of the gate. After all, the college basketball season is short. There isn’t much time to make large-scale improvements and teams are rarely bringing in new coaches or players midseason.

But these teams have proven that patience pays off. It will be paying off even more come March when these teams are competing for one of the best prizes in all of sports.

Here are three college basketball teams that saved their seasons when they were dangling on the edge.

USC Trojans

The Trojans entered the season with some of the highest expectations in program history. They were ranked in the AP top-10 at the start of the season, with a cast of upperclassman expected to help them compete for a Final Four berth.

Then, the FBI probe took hold of college basketball, eliminating an assistant along with De’Anthony Melton. USC started the year 4-3, though none of those losses would be characterized as horrible. During a three-game losing streak, they fell to Texas A&M, SMU, Oklahoma, all respectable opponents.

Then, they lost to Princeton at home by ten points. The panic meter started to rise quickly in Los Angeles. Since then, however, the Trojans have gotten their act together. They’ve lost just two games since that loss, which came against Washington and Stanford (on a halfcourt buzzer-beater, mind you).

That being said, there’s still reason to be concerned for Trojans fans. The team has yet to beat a single opponent ranked in the AP top-25 this season and has gone largely unchallenged in Pac-12 play. That should change on Feb. 3 when they take on rival UCLA followed by a road trip to the Arizona schools.

At the moment, however, USC has put themselves in position to potentially steal the Pac-12 title.