LSU Basketball Receives First Round Exit in Sports Illustrated NCAA Tournament Projections

Glen West

We've reached that time in March when the second weekend of the NCAA tournament would be taking place, starting tomorrow with the Midwest and West Regional games tipping off.

It's an eerie feeling to know March Madness, an event that is filled with so much excitement, is simply not consuming the sports world. On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated national writer Pat Forde released his hypothetical tournament projections and had the Tigers suffering an early round exit.

Forde had No. 8 seed LSU dropping its first round game to No. 9 seed Arizona State in the South region. The Tigers finished the regular season 21-10 and 12-6 in SEC play in what coach Will Wade called a good year for the program. 

"Like I said, anytime you finish in the top-four in the SEC and earn the double bye and are going to be in the NCAA tournament, I think that's a good year at LSU," Wade told LSUCountry last week. "Now, we want to chase great years but that's a very, very good season and a very good year and we certainly did that."

Out of the four SEC teams to make the tournament, only No. 3 seed Kentucky was able to make it to the second weekend before losing to Villanova in the Elite Eight. Auburn was able to advance to the round of 32 as a No. 5 seed while No. 8 seed Florida lost its opening round game to USC.

Wade and company are now setting their sights on a 2020 season that will be a defining season of the Wade era. LSU has the No. 6 recruiting class incoming according to 247Sports and if Emmitt Williams, Javonte Smart or Trendon Watford decided to come back to school, it could make for an elite caliber team this time next season.

The team will lose senior guard Skylar Mays but bring in five-star scoring dynamo Cam Thomas as well as a plethora of transfers (Josh Leblanc, Shareef O'Neal) and highly touted recruits (Eric Gaines, Mwani Wilkerson, Jalen Cook, Bradley Ezewiro).

"Certainly we feel like we're moving in the right direction. We're gonna have a very good team and a deep team, which is important," Wade said. "We're certainly going to have a few more pieces next year and we're excited about that. That's what you want as a coach, to put the pieces to the puzzle together to make it look good. I think we will have a very, very good team next year and we're looking forward to that."

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