Strength, depth of Pac-12 women’s basketball on display on Day 1

The USC Trojans women’s basketball team suffered a loss it frankly shouldn’t have endured. The Trojans were up 43-35 with seven minutes left in regulation on Wednesday night against Oregon State at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. Every coach and player would tell you that game needs to be closed down and tucked into the win column. No excuses.

Nevertheless, it remains that Oregon State isn’t nearly as bad a team as the records might indicate. We wrote about this earlier in the season, and USC needed overtime in the Galen Center to fend off the Beavers a few weeks ago. USC also beat Oregon State in Corvallis, so it’s not as though USC didn’t solve OSU this season.

It simply didn’t solve OSU a third time.

The Beavers had a frustrating season, but that didn’t stop them from fighting tooth and nail.

That describes the lower-tier teams in the Pac-12. All of them fought hard on Day 1 of the Pac-12 Tournament.

Arizona State won only one Pac-12 game all season, but the 12th-seeded (last-place) Sun Devils took No. 5 seed UCLA to overtime before falling short.

10th-seeded Cal gave seventh-seeded Washington State a very tough game for 35 minutes before fading down the stretch. Cal led at halftime and made WSU earn that win.

There are simply no easy outs in this conference, a testament to how tough and deep Pac-12 women’s basketball truly is.

Want to guess the NET ranking (on the morning of March 2) of the Oregon State team which beat USC?

Remember: The Beavers finished 11th in the Pac-12. They enter Thursday’s quarterfinal against Colorado with a 13-17 record, 4-14 in the Pac-12 regular season plus the win over USC on Wednesday (5-14 in 19 conference games).

Guess where OSU’s ranking was on the morning of Thursday, March 2.

The envelope, please:

No. 55.

The 11th-place team in the Pac-12 is a top-60 NET team.

Cal is No. 80.

The only team outside the top 100 is Arizona State, and even then, the Sun Devils are 109. A team with one Pac-12 win is still in the top 110 teams in the NET.

As a point of comparison, on the morning of March 2, the Oregon State men’s team is No. 215, and California is No. 304.

This is why it’s so important to have a good conference. A loss to Oregon State isn’t good for USC, but it doesn’t carry nearly as much of a penalty as it did for the men’s team. It’s the same with USC’s loss to Cal, which didn’t carry as much of a downward effect as many might have thought.

This is why USC is safely in the NCAA Tournament … but it doesn’t mean the Trojans’ loss to Oregon State should be viewed as acceptable, either.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire