Of all the teams staring up at the favorites, the USC Trojans have to be feeling pretty good about their chances. Unless they end up running into Oregon (and no, this isn't a football post), the Men of Troy must be salivating at the possibility of dancing with two or three wins. They have shown they can beat any of the major teams in the conference. And they're playing mere miles from their college campus, as they do every year because the Pac-10 tournament will never ever rotate from Staples. Go figure.
Here's their three game path to March Madness, thanks to our handy schedule guide of the tournament brackets.
First game, second round matchup: Thursday, 12 PM PT/3 PM ET on FSN -- USC faces off against the California Golden Bears.
Analysis: This could be a really intense game. Both of their previous matchups went down to the final play, with USC missing a three at the buzzer to fall at home in the Galen Center, and Cal missing a three at the buzzer to fall at home in Haas Pavilion. However, Cal was missing Allen Crabbe (concussion) in that game, and he will be plenty healthy in this one. Expect another close game.
Second game, semifinals: Friday, 6 PM PT/9 PM ET on FSN -- USC faces off against the Arizona/Stanford-Oregon St. winner.
Analysis: If USC doesn't expend too much energy trying to beat Cal, they might have enough defensively to hold Arizona in check, as they did a few weeks ago in their mildly surprising upset of the Wildcats a few weeks ago. The ideal opponent is Stanford, but that'd be the ideal opponent almost every game for every team.
Third game, finals: Saturday, 3:10 PM PT/6:10 PM ET on CBS -- Five teams to pick from
Analysis: Again, no Oregon (not likely, since their chain to this game is ASU-UCLA-UW or WSU), and USC should be happy. Their chances are toss-up against everyone (splits against Washington State, Washington, and UCLA), but they are not at a serious disadvantage against any of these opponents.
Conclusions: Two 50-50 games and a tough matchup against Arizona will really hamper USC's chances to wear the crown this Saturday, but the Trojans do have an edge over Arizona and two of the three potential championship opponents: They have to win to get in. The other teams they face down the road technically don't. Can Kevin O'Neill use that to motivate his shorthanded team to win some big games?