Damage control: Trojans lose in Pac-12 quarterfinals, but only by 5 points
The USC Trojans did not have a good night in Las Vegas. The Trojans, who have historically done very poorly at the Pac-12 Tournament, once again crashed out in their first game. They finished third in the league this season but will not be part of Semifinal Friday. They played an atrocious basketball game against the Arizona State Sun Devils. It was bad.
However: It wasn’t a worst-case scenario. The Trojans scrambled to avoid that, and in the big picture, that’s what matters most.
Midway through the second half, USC trailed ASU 66-50. The Trojans were looking at the very real possibility of a 20-point loss. Had they gotten blown out, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee would have looked at an ugly loss as the team’s last result before Selection Sunday. The Trojans would have been a prime candidate to be shipped to Dayton, Ohio, for the First Four next Tuesday or Wednesday. That would have been terrible. USC needs some rest. The Trojans have guys who aren’t fully healthy (Drew Peterson and Vince Iwuchukwu). They don’t need an early-week game next week. They need to be able to decompress for a full week and play a game next Thursday or Friday in the Round of 64.
USC didn’t beat Arizona State on Thursday, but a late rally to lose by only five points, 77-72, probably saved the Trojans that trip to Dayton. The selection committee — which is looking at reams of data — will see a close loss against a team USC had already beaten twice this season. It’s hard to see how USC can fall far enough to be in the “Dayton Zone” for the First Four.
However: USC does need a few more results to break its way on Friday and Saturday, just to be sure. We’ll keep you posted as the weekend continues.
Consult our bubble guide for the week.
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