The Time: 7 P.M. PST
The Place: Galen Center
The Coverage: Fox Sports Prime Ticket
If you listen to all the chatter taking place across town, then you'd most likely be aware of the fact that today's matchup between USC and UCLA is basically meaningless. With an 11-12 UCLA bunch taking on a USC team that will not be eligible for the postseason, this game is essentially a wash. Well, that's what they want you to believe.
While it may not be to the magnitude of last year's contests when both teams were contenders for at-large births in the NCAA Tournament, this year's edition of the heated crosstown rivalry has its own distinct flavor - how far can UCLA fall? In the past three years, the Bruins are just 4-3 against the Trojans, and if they end up losing tonight, then the esteemed Ben Howland will have become the first coach in the post-John Wooden era to lose three straight games to USC.
From a purely PR perspective, that isn't good at all. In a time when USC is shoring up the gap between the two programs, especially after a 21-point victory in Pauley, now isn't the time for the Bruins to start racking up losses to Kevin O'Neill surging Trojan program. It doesn't look good for recruits in the Los Angeles area, and it isn't going to do anything to increase alumni support either. In a troubled economy where the state of California is making budget cuts directly involving education, the UCLA athletic department needs all the financial support it can get from its alumni network. Sorry, but sub-500 seasons and double-digit losses to ‘SC aren't going to resonate much support. That's why tonight's game is critical. The pressure is squarely on Ben's Brats to come out and perform.
While I'd argue to no end, that this game is far more important for the Bruins, a win would still go a long way for USC and there is still much pressure on them to come out and perform. For one, the Trojans need a win to stay in the hunt for the Pac-10 regular season. A loss would essentially kill their hopes for the conference crown. Additionally, a win would mark the first Trojan victory over the Bruins in Galen Center since the arena opened in 2006. It should be an exciting matchup, and if all goes to plan, USC should be able to walk away from this one with a victory in hand.
In the meanwhile, feel free to stop by and participate in our open thread here at Conquest Chronicles, as the Trojans look to get out the brooms against the Bruins.