Monday, February 28, 2011

USC and Washington set up an interesting game Saturday

USC swept the Arizona schools at home this weekend, thanks in very large part to the play of Nikola Vucevic inside. The Trojan big man averaged 22.5 ppg and 11.0 rpg for the week. That's impressive, especially when you consider he went for 25 points and 12 boards while holding Derrick Williams to all of eight points on Thursday night.

Washington's weekend was a bit more disappointing. The Huskies got smoked at home by rival Washington State, putting them into a bit of a troubling situation. They are now 10-6 in the Pac-10 and two games off of the pace for the Pac-10 lead while their road struggles have now spread to their home court.

It sets up an interesting situation next Saturday when USC visits Washington in the regular season finale.

Not a lot of mention has been made about USC as a potential tournament team. Rightfully so. They are 17-12 on the season with an RPI of 80. At best, they will finish at 11-7 in the Pac-10, which includes three losses to the Oregon schools. But they also own wins over Texas, Tennessee, UCLA, and now Arizona. And while the Trojans also lost to Bradley, Rider, and TCU, those losses all came prior to Jio Fontan joining the team. Not quite as bad as you thought, is it?

Now, Washington is on the other end of that spectrum. Despite being ranked in the top 25 for much of the season, this Washington team will be in serious trouble if they lose out this weekend. Their RPI is 43rd, but they have half the number of top 50 wins that USC does (just UCLA and Arizona) and the same number of ugly losses, dropping games at Stanford and both of the Oregon schools.

Imagine this scenario -- USC wins at Washington State on Thursday while Washington loses to UCLA. Both the Huskies and the Trojans would be heading into their showdown on Saturday with a 10-7 record in league play. If USC wins, they finish a game in front of Washington in the Pac-10 standings, having beaten the Huskies to cap off a six game winning streak to end the season, with more than double to number of top 50 wins on their resume.

That would be an interesting situation, wouldn't it?

How much credit do you give to the end of the season, when Washington lost four of five? How much do you factor in the addition of Fontan? Or the loss of Abdul Gaddy?

When you also consider that Arizona just blew a two game lead in the conference standings in the span of three days, tying them with UCLA for first, I think its safe to say we are headed to a wild finish in Pac-10 play.

No comments: