The USC Trojans are doing really well. They’re winning lots of games. They have a 16-5 record.
They must be situated in an easy conference, right? They’re taking advantage of weak opponents, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In men’s college basketball, the Big 12 has a good chance of putting eight of its 10 teams in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. That’s the gold standard among conferences. The Big Ten might get nine, but that’s out of 14 teams, not 10. The Big 12 could put 80 percent of its teams into the field. That’s crazy.
In women’s college basketball, the Pac-12 is poised to put two-thirds of its 12 teams into the field. Yes, eight teams are now likely to make the Big Dance with USC in the process of solidifying a bid (not a lock, but now really close) and Washington State significantly improving its bubble resume. The Cougars were near the cut line heading into the weekend, but they won at Arizona State and then beat No. 19 Arizona in Tucson. Wazzu got star player Charlisse Leger-Walker back in its lineup after she missed the USC and UCLA games due to having to tend to a private family matter in her native New Zealand. Leger-Walker was fresh and rested for the Arizona game. She helped the Cougars upset the Wildcats, exactly the kind of win WSU needed to feel much safer about making the NCAA Tournament.
Eight teams is a huge haul for the Pac-12, reminding everyone that whereas football and men’s basketball are often a struggle for the Pac, women’s basketball has been delivering the goods for some time.
The other big news story of the weekend in Pac-12 women’s basketball is that with USC beating Colorado, the Buffaloes absorbed their third conference loss of the season, pushing them one game behind Utah for second place in the conference.
Stanford leads at 9-1 after sweeping the Oregon schools. Utah is second at 8-2 after sweeping USC and UCLA. Colorado is third at 7-3. UCLA got swept on its Mountain road trip to Colorado and Utah. Arizona lost to Washington State, meaning that the Wildcats and Bruins are 6-4, further removed from the top tier. This is now a three-team race at the most. Realistically, it’s now a two-team battle between Utah and Stanford.
Colorado isn’t out of the race, but the Buffs now have zero margin for error, and they have lots of tough games left: at Oregon, at Arizona, home against Stanford. This weekend separated the top two from the rest of the field, even while the Pac-12 likely increased its NCAA Tournament bid count.
USC fan brings up a fascinating point about Trojan revenue sports in a simple tweet