Sometimes, getting a #11 or #12 seed in the NCAA tournament is more beneficial than receiving a #9 or #10 seed. If a team can pull the upset, they can avoid facing a top-2 seeded team in the second round on their home court.
But for the USC women's basketball team, their first ever Pac-12 tournament title and late-season rise into the AP Top 25 has earned them a tough return to March Madness. USC was named a #9 seed in the Louisville regional and will travel to Knoxville to take on the St. John's Red Storm on Saturday. The winner of that match will likely play the top-seeded Tennessee Lady Vols in the second round on Monday. The last time USC competed in the tournament in 2006, they found themselves in the same situation, defeating USF in a close 8/9 match before getting blown out by Duke in the next round.
St. John's has a 22-10 record (13-5) and finished the season as runners-up in the Big East. They got one road win against the eventual champion DePaul, but dropped two to them in March to give DePaul the outright title. Against tournament-bound teams, St. John's is 2-3 this season, while USC is 6-9.
You can bet that Cynthia Cooper-Dyke is telling her team that in order to get to the Final Four, there's no way to avoid the top teams and that it's better to take them on sooner than later. If USC manages to brave the Storm, expect a loaded Rocky Top crowd on Monday night cheering on the Vols as they hope to reach a Final Four that will be hosted in their home state. St. John's vs. USC will be on Saturday at 3:30 PM PT on ESPN2.
USC Tournament Notes:
-USC is 29-13 in the NCAA Tournament, with two NCAA title victories (1983 and 1984).
-This is the Trojans' 16th trip to the NCAA Tournament
-USC's last trip to the NCAA tourney was back in 2006. USC was a No. 8 seed that year, beating South Florida 67-65 in the first round before falling to No. 1 seed Duke 85-51 in the Second Round in Norfolk, Va.
-Back when she played for USC, Coach Cooper won back-to-back NCAA Championships with the Women of Troy in 1983 and 1984. In four trips to the NCAA Tournament as a player, she went 13-2 overall with her only NCAA losses coming to Tennessee in Knoxville (1982 Mideast Regional Final) and Texas (1986 NCAA Final).
-If this second round match up comes about, it will be interesting to note that Cooper's Trojans beat Tennessee to win the 1984 NCAA title in Westwood.