USC, at 9-3 in Pac-12, has created multiple positive scenarios for next month
The USC Trojans are putting themselves in position to benefit from the other forces currently at work in Pac-12 basketball.
The Trojans’ win over Washington on Saturday night put them at 9-3 in the Pac-12, just behind 10-2 UCLA and 10-3 Arizona.
We have a situation in which USC — as long as it continues to win the games it is supposed to win (at Oregon State, home against the Bay Area schools, at Colorado) — will give itself a chance to benefit in one way or another, maybe both.
Let’s start with the Pac-12 bubble conversation. Oregon won at Arizona State on Saturday, which increases the odds of the Pac-12 getting only three teams in the NCAA Tournament. ASU was ahead of Oregon in the bubble pecking order, so the Oregon win puts ASU and the Ducks on relatively equal ground … and outside the NCAA field. Both ASU and Oregon will need to beat UCLA or Arizona at least one (more) time to get into the Big Dance. Oregon hosts UCLA next week. ASU visits Arizona and UCLA in a few weeks. This shapes our conversation here.
If UCLA and Arizona beat Oregon and ASU in the coming weeks, the bad news is that the Bruins and Wildcats will stay ahead of the Trojans in the fight for the Pac-12 regular-season championship. However, UCLA and the U of A beating UO and ASU means the Ducks and Devils will cease to be bubble threats for the Trojans. That’s two fewer bubble teams USC would have to worry about. The odds of making the NCAA Tournament would increase.
Let’s flip this around, then: If ASU and Oregon get huge wins over Arizona and/or UCLA in the next four weeks to significantly improve their bubble odds, those results would give USC an opening for the Pac-12 title, which would be the Trojans’ first conference championship since 1985 if they can pounce.
One way or another, USC has an opportunity in these next four weeks. Let’s see if the Trojans can take it.