USC basketball struggled in a tough non-conference schedule, and has continued its frustrating play while going 2-2 in conference games.
Does the USC basketball team have a reasonable chance at making the NCAA tournament this March? Through the first 13 games of the season, this did not seem likely at all.
Despite having the potential to be one of USC’s best squads in a long time, the Trojans went a disappointing 7-6 through non-conference play, including a tough loss to a mediocre Santa Clara team.
However, things are not as bleak as they appear on paper. First of all, USC played a subtly difficult non-conference schedule this season, facing teams such as now 10th-ranked Nevada, eighth-ranked Texas Tech, 25th-ranked TCU, and 23rd-ranked Oklahoma. Of these teams, only Nevada was ranked when they played USC, as Texas Tech, TCU, and Oklahoma have only slowly emerged as solid and dangerous ranked teams.
More from Reign of Troy
- Five USC football recruiting stories to watch for on Early Signing Day for 2021
- USC football’s playoff hopes sorely hurt by latest College Football Playoff ranking
- 3 biggest takeaways from USC football’s win over UCLA
- USC football to play Oregon in Pac-12 Championship Game with Washington out
- USC football’s postgame locker room after beating UCLA was absolutely lit (Video)
Although USC lost all four of these games, there were some bright spots. Against Texas Tech, USC got out to a quick start and led for most of the game before blowing their lead in the second half. In the Nevada game, the Trojans managed to keep a close score for the entire game but did not have enough firepower to make a full comeback.
In addition to a tough schedule, USC also took major losses with freshman star Kevin Porter Jr. and Chuck O’Bannon out due to injuries and former starting guard Jordan Usher transferring after he was suspended indefinitely for a “conduct issue.”
But somehow, the team was able to win both of their first two Pac-12 games, key wins that have given some hope for the rest of the season.
Against Cal, USC relied on a strong first half to win 82-73 and against Stanford they won 77-66 after solid performances from Bennie Boatwright and Nick Rakocevic. Rakocevic has especially stepped up as of late, earning Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, after his two 25+ point games so far in conference play.
Reign of Troy Radio Mug
Although these conference wins are huge for the Trojans, it is important to note, however, that both Cal and Stanford have struggled this season. Cal is now 5-9 while Stanford is 7-7.
Right now, USC is in the middle of its real test as it in the midst of a difficult six game run against solid teams in Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, and Washington.
USC’s performance in these six games could determine the outcome of their season.
Thus far, they have dropped both of these first two games with a close loss to Oregon State, in which Porter Jr. finally returned, and a blowout loss to Oregon, a team who is missing a key player in Bol Bol.
Overall, it has been a generally frustrating season, and the high of a hot Pac-12 start has quickly returned to stagnant play and the inability to hang with solid teams. If USC cannot get their act together in these next four games, then their hopes of making it to the NCAA tournament are very low, unless they somehow make a miracle Pac-12 tournament run.