With the dust still settling from USC's very first home loss, the Pac-12 Tournament picture is starting to come into view.
The 12-team tournament is held from Wednesday, Mar. 9 through the championship game Saturday, Mar. 12 and features all of the conference's schools.
Following their 80-69 home loss to Utah Sunday night, the Trojans are currently ranked fifth in the conference with only four games left in the regular season.
With the current order, USC would be scheduled to take on the #12 seed Washington State (9-17, 1-13) in the opening round. The Cougars are by far the longest shot of all Pac-12 teams to winâand might actually head into the tournament with the longest streak in the conference as they are the current owners of a 13-game losing slump.
In the current rankings, it is anticipated that USC could face both the #4 and #1 seeds that would consist of California and #1 Arizona respectively. However, with the Trojans' erratic play all season long, it'd be a bit of a stretch to just assume they will make the conference finals.
USC does stand a reasonable chance at advancing in the tournament and barring a complete team implosion before season's endâthe Trojans have a shot at a NCAA tournament bid.
In its final four games, USC will determine its own fate. If they win out, victories over Cal and #16 Oregon should not only propel the team to the top of the conference, but give them direly needed momentum heading into March.
Of course this task is easier said than done, considering the Trojans have been a true Jekyll and Hyde team since mid-January. USC has at times shown an uncanny desire to win as evident with their one-time national ranking earlier in the month.
However, that same desire to win is at times replaced with a concerning apathy that definitely shows on the court. With a seemingly malaise on defense, the Trojans on many occasions have an obvious disconnect with a strong defensive effort that is starting to let games get out of hand.
With both the second-best scoring offense and overall defense in the conference, USC's team statistics aren't indicative of the type of team they are. As the season comes to an end, it'll be interesting to see if the Men of Troy can finally put it together and enjoy a deep run in both the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments.