USC Basketball beat Colorado State last Wednesday in the Jerry Colangelo Classic in Phoenix, Arizona. The game was won by a final score of 73-64, so it wasn't the most dominant victory, but it also marked their sixth victory in a row. Nobody asked for the Trojans to be ranked in Monday's AP Top 25 poll, but they did ask for SC to not lose credibility for a win.
Sure enough, the Trojans somehow only received four votes in Monday's poll, after receiving seven in the week before. How a 10-3 team received just four votes when there is a 9-4 team ranked (UNC) is outrageous. Especially when two of North Carolina's losses are against unranked teams. Also, they have the same amount of ranked wins as SC.
This isn't to say that SC is a better team than the Tar Heels. In fact, they are not. SC fails the eye test due to their constant struggles in just putting teams away. They shouldn't lose votes, however, after winning on a neutral floor.
Sure, Colorado State is not a good team, but they at least have a record well over .500. SC should not be losing credibility for beating them. Especially when margin of victory isn't factored into NCAA Tournament placement this season.
Of course, the AP voters are not the NCAA Tournament selectors, but it's important to remember that there's a reason the NCAA Tournament doesn't care about how close the wins are as long as the games are won. Perhaps the AP should follow suit.
USC Basketball will need to sweep the Washington trip to gain respect.
The reality is that USC Basketball needs to do A LOT to shake their opening night loss to Florida Gulf Coast off of their resume. It was a truly awful loss and again, if the AP voters are using margin of victory against SC, they are also likely to use margin of defeat against SC. They lost to FGCU by 13 points at home.
SC is going to have to prove that the loss was just a fluke. The issue is, they didn't get off to the best start to that when five games later, they lost back-to-back in Atlantis. Now at 10-3, their resume still doesn't prove that the first game was just a one-off. They have only beaten one ranked team themselves in No. 19 Auburn--now No. 20.
If SC gets to 12-3 by the end of this weekend, however, that would include two more road wins to add to their resume when the new poll drops. It would also include a road win against a 9-4 Washington team, which would be a better win than the win over the then 8-4 Colorado State. To make all this happen, SC would need to be more consistent on offense.
The team really lacks on offense without five-star (247Sports) Vince Iwuchuwku still not out on the floor, and has scored just 71.8 points per game. That's just 181st in the country. UW, however, has been worse. They are 216th in the country with just 70.5 points scored per game.
And Washington State doesn't even appear to play offense--scoring only 68.7 points per game on the season (258th in America).
So, while USC has been struggling to score down low (their highest scoring big man in Joshua Morgan is only putting up 8.4 points per game and is only shooting 58.7% from the free throw line), they still have been a better offensive machine than the schools they are about to play.
It's rather simple: If SC comes into a tough UCLA game at 12-3, they'll be seen as a viable team that will likely be NCAA Tournament bound, with higher upside if Iwuchukwu comes back. If not, they'll be seen as a squad with a long, uphill battle to climb up if they want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight time (there was no NCAA Tournament in 2020).