USC received a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in program history. Thursday evening they will face an Oregon State team coming off an overtime victory over Washington Wednesday night. The Trojans currently find themselves on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament and a deep run in the Pac-12 Tournament could safely place them into the field of 68. Before USC begin Pac-12 Tournament play in Las Vegas, We look at some scenarios that could get the Trojans into the NCAA Tournament or disappointed come Selection Sunday.
Winning the Pac-12 Tournament: Ultimately this is the best case scenario for the Trojans. If USC can win the Pac-12 Tournament then they take their fate out of the hands of the selection committee with an automatic bid. Not to mention that could also improve their seeding as most projections have the Trojans in the first four play in games in Dayton, Ohio. Obtaining an automatic bid will likely push them to anywhere between a 10-8 seed in the Tournament.
Winning two games in the Pac-12 Tournament: Some believe that two wins in the Pac-12 Tournament will lock USC into the NCAA Tournament. Winning two games mean the Trojans playing in the conference tournament finals. Could it be enough to get them in? Yes, but they will be nervous come selection Sunday. USC currently have a combined record of 6-0 against Oregon State, Utah, and Oregon. They’ve swept teams on their side of the bracket, however USC will also be getting teams fighting for their Tournament lives as well.
Losing in the Semi-Finals to Utah/Oregon: Now this is where things start to get a little tricky. Should USC advance to the Semi-Finals and lose to Utah or Oregon, the Trojans tournament hopes will be up in the air. This is where USC and fans will start getting nervous, especially with other teams on the bubble rising up. The Pac-12 could see a scenario where 3 teams make the conference tournament with the Trojans not being one of them. Gut feeling would be that USC would still make the tournament if they lose in the Semi-Finals.
Losing to Oregon State in the quarterfinals: If you are looking for the absolute worst case scenario for USC Basketball this season then look no further than this right here. If USC fails to take care of business against Oregon State, this very well may burst the Trojans bubble and end the NCAA Tournament hopes. A loss to Oregon State would count as a Quadrant 4 loss and suffering a loss like that would really damage USC’s tournament resume seeing they suffered a bad loss earlier in the season to Princeton at home. There is a bright spot for USC fans and the basketball team. According to team rankings, A USC loss would give the Trojans a 78.2% chance at making the NCAA Tournament. A win would give them a 92% chance at making the tournament. It’s better if the Trojans take that scenario out of the committee’s hand.
Verdict: USC basically needs to win at least two games to breathe comfortably on Sunday. Anything less than that will mean the Trojans will need the committee to believe that their resume is enough for them to play in the NCAA Tournament. As stated, a deep run in the Pac-12 Tournament is needed with the best case being an automatic bid.