It's no secret by now that the USC men's basketball is barred from postseason play this March due to self-imposed sanctions stemming from rumors that O.J. Mayo received money and other benefits from Rodney Guillory right under the athletic department's watch. Yet, according to ESPN's Andy Katz, the Trojans may have the opportunity to play beyond their remaining four Pac-10 games against Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona State, and Arizona, as Saint Mary's is looking to add another nonconference matchup to their schedule after the completion of the WCC tournament.
Saint Mary's didn't play a game Saturday and was a conspicuous absentee from the BracketBusters event.
The Gaels took a pass on the event and are now scrambling -- for the second straight season -- to get another game that could help their power rating or impress the selection committee.
Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said that there has been some discussion among the Gaels' brass to see if USC would play the Gaels for the second time this season sometime during championship week. The Trojans gave themselves a postseason ban and won't be playing in the Pac-10 tournament the week of March 8. The WCC tournament ends before the Pac-10 tournament even begins.
Bennett said by text Saturday night that the chances of playing USC are probably unlikely, and the Trojans have yet to hear from the Gaels.
"[Saint Mary's] never talked to me," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said. "But no one from there [Saint Mary's] called me about it. I'd play any game. I don't know if we'd be allowed to do that with our sanctions."
There are several reasons as to why this game is unlikely to occur. For one, it's unknown whether the Trojans would even be allowed to schedule the matchup, and secondly, the Gaels, by all accounts, have yet to contact USC about such a possibility.
To top it off, the Gaels would most likely expect this game to be played at home, which would be a major deterrent to Kevin O'Neill's group if the USC administration did allow them to play in another contest. So far this season, 'SC has proved to be an awful road team with just two wins outside the friendly confines of Galen Center. Additionally, the Trojans would be pitted against a good team that would being playing for its postseason life. Adding that to the fact that it would be hard to beat the Gaels for a second time in one season, makes this a rather intimating option for USC.
Nevertheless, I still feel as if this matchup presents some exciting possibilities for this team. An extra game would be well-deserved for a group that unfairly won't be allowed to participate in any postseason tournament this spring. Win or lose, does it really even matter in the long run? A home game or even a game at a neutral site could provide additional revenue for the program, serve as a recruiting opportunity, and most importantly, provide a nice reward for a team that has absolutely worked its tail off this year. I'd like to see it happen, but in the end, it does make sense logistically if it doesn't happen.