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A Manageable Seed

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After watching the selection show last evening I was a surprised that we ended up with K-State considering how they stumbled towards the end of the season. Don't get me wrong this will be a great match-up, as Mayo vs. Beasley and Mayo vs. Walker are clearly a match made for TV.

Mayo and Walker are former high school teammates so there will probably be some good-natured trash talk, but these guys will no doubt put it all on the floor. Mayo even called the match-up.

When USC's opponent in the NCAA tournament was announced on the video board at the Galen Center on Sunday, O.J. Mayo smiled and reached for his cellphone.

The Trojans' freshman guard had good news to share with an old friend.

Mayo and Kansas State freshman Bill Walker, former high school teammates who have known each other since age 3, will be reunited Thursday when the sixth-seeded Trojans play the 11th-seeded Wildcats in a Midwest Region first-round game in Omaha.

Mayo said he had predicted his team's opponent and destination after Kansas State lost to Texas A&M in a Big 12 Conference tournament quarterfinal.

"They lost pretty early in their conference tournament, and Omaha seemed like a good place for us to play," Mayo said. "At the same time, it's pretty much always kind of about money. I think we'll draw a pretty good crowd in Omaha, and Kansas State will also."

Apparently, close friends think alike.

"I was thinking the same thing he was -- wouldn't that be something? -- and it just happened like that," Walker said in a telephone interview.

This is going to be a tough game for SC. I was taking to AO last evening and he thought that some #7 & #8 seeds had easier games but what can you do? everyone has SC winning this game but SC needs to play the game they were playing prior to losing to ucla in the Pac-10 tournament. Turnovers need to be minimized and being aggressive on the boards will be key to securing a first round win.

This game will definitely be a youth movement!

[...] But youth will be king regardless of the outcome Thursday evening when sixth-seeded USC plays 11th-seeded Kansas State in a Midwest Regional first-round game in Omaha.

The Wildcats' three leading scorers are freshmen, and yet they might be considered the more veteran team because they feature two senior starters.

The Trojans' starting lineup includes two freshmen and three sophomores, and underclassmen have accounted for 95.7% of USC's scoring, the highest percentage among Division I teams. For all their talent, freshmen O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson haven't scored one point in the postseason.

"The NCAA tournament is something new for a lot of us younger guys," Mayo said.

Not every Trojan is a tournament tenderfoot, however. USC has three key players -- sophomores Taj Gibson, Daniel Hackett and Dwight Lewis -- from last year's Sweet 16 run. The returners say they know what it takes to succeed on college basketball's biggest stage.

Beasley, who some thought should be National Player of the Year is the biggest weapon K-State has. He is their biggest sot blocker and their best shooter. K-State has some senior leadership but they haven't been to the tournament in 12 years so this will be a different experience for them. SC has some experience in the tournament but you know you have a young team when your most experienced players in the tournament are sophomores.

We all know the importance of Mayo, Jefferson and Hackett but Taj Gibson's performance will the key for SC going past the second round. He needs to find a way work off the double team to score points inside. SC has played some big games this year so they got the chops to play teams tough but now they need to see it through and put of these teams away.

Again, it will be a tough game but it is winnable, all SC needs to do is play like they did in the last few weeks of the season. We will do a Q&A with Bring on the Cats!, SBN's great K-State blog, later in the week.