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USC Women’s NCAA Tournament preview: Trojans are focused on Game 1, but what about Game 2?

The USC Trojans need to win four games in the next two weeks to punch their ticket to the 2024 Women’s Final Four in Cleveland. This Women’s NCAA Tournament will be an unqualified success for USC if it can get that far. First things first, though: USC needs to win its two games this weekend in the Galen Center at the NCAA Women’s Tournament’s subregional, the four-team pod through which one team will advance to the Sweet 16 next week in Portland. USC has its first-round game versus Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but before that game on Saturday in Galen, Michigan and Kansas will battle in the 9-versus-8 seed matchup.

In previewing this subregional, Kansas appears to be the tougher, thornier potential opponent for USC for one basic reason: The Jayhawks are a defense-first team. They rely on their toughness to win games. This brings up a memory from last year’s NCAA Tournament which doesn’t involve USC but could play into a potential Kansas-USC matchup on Monday in the second round.

Ole Miss, under coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin, is a defense-first team. “Coach Yo” had Ole Miss ready to muck things up against Stanford and its skilled performers in the second round last year. It didn’t matter that Stanford was a No. 1 seed playing on its home floor. Ole Miss made the game physical and ugly and difficult, and Stanford couldn’t handle that. USC has seen what a physical, tough, defense-first team can do to its offense. Arizona really bothered the Trojans in recent weeks. Kansas could be that thorny kind of foe in the second round. USC needs to be ready to win an ugly game.

Yes, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is the first point of focus for this team. We’re not ignoring that. However, in terms of looking at all four teams in Los Angeles this weekend, we who write about USC sports can give you a little sneak peek at Kansas in a possible second-round game. Our conclusion: Michigan beating Kansas would be a good outcome for USC. We will see what happens.

Michigan-Kansas starts the Saturday schedule at Galen Center at 11 a.m. local time in Los Angeles on ESPNEWS. USC then follows with a 1:30 p.m. game (30 minutes after Michigan-Kansas) on ESPN.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire