USC is trying to build a national basketball brand under Andy Enfield. The Trojans made the Elite Eight in 2021 and are trying to leverage that achievement into sustained national staying power.
Obviously, winning games and making NCAA Tournaments will build and sustain a brand and an identity, but what also helps a program is having big matchups on the biggest stage when the largest amount of people will be watching. With that point in mind, the 2022-2023 Pac-12 basketball schedule, released on Thursday, is a mixed bag for the Trojans.
The good news: The Trojans should get off to a good start in league play. Cal, Oregon State, and the Washington schools represent USC’s first four conference opponents. The December-January portion of the schedule eases USC into the flow of the Pac-12 season.
The bad news: USC plays UCLA on Jan. 5 and 26. The Trojans and Bruins have a spicy rivalry in Los Angeles. Playing one of the games near the end of the season is good for publicity and generating interest in the Trojans’ basketball brand. Playing UCLA twice in January cuts against that goal. The Jan. 5 game at Pauley Pavilion is absurdly early for a USC-UCLA game at a time when both programs are relevant and competitive.