February has not been kind to the USC Trojans. They’re currently 2-5 this month and heading into a tough home stretch with Arizona and Arizona State coming to Galen Center. A team that was sitting in first of the Pac-12 and in a comfortable position to make the NCAA Tournament are now in danger of being left on the outside looking in.
Most bracket projections have USC their first four in or last four in. Their resume alone is strong enough to keep them in the tournament discussion. However, the Trojans are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. In would mean a first four play in game in Dayton as an 11 or 12 seed. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has the Trojans as a 10 seed in his projected bracket. Regardless of the projections, USC is playing for their tournament fate in their final three games of the regular season.
How are the Trojans in this position? Right now they’re lacking in quadrant 1 wins, holding a 2-7 record in that category. USC is desperately in need of quadrant 1 wins to propel their tournament status. They’re currently ranked No. 47 in the NCAA’s NET ratings and No. 30 in the RPI. Their recent slide has dropped them down 6 points in the NET ratings. While analytics alone could be enough to get them through, they still need a quadrant 1 win. They have the opportunity to grab two at home against Arizona and Arizona State.
What needs to be done for USC to keep their tournament fate alive? First thing is first, they must win! However, just one win won’t do it for them. Winning two of the last three regular season games added by at least a win in the upcoming Pac-12 tournament should be enough to have their name called on selection Sunday. It would give them at least two quadrant 1 wins in the regular season and Pac-12 tournament, assuming they win the opening round. There’s a good chance that the Trojans could see Oregon, UCLA, or Colorado in the second round of the conference tournament.
USC’s fate is now in the selection committee’s hands and that could change if they can come out of their February slide. It’s all simple for the Trojans. Win and you’re in good shape again, continue to lose and you’re sweating it out on selection Sunday. Possibly heading to the NIT.