USC Trojans (21-10)
- Latest BTD Power Rankings: 2nd overall (12-6)
- Head Coach: Andy Enfield (5th season)
- Top Performer: Chimezie Metu (15.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG)
- Points For: 78.2 (T-69th)
- Points Against: 71.3 (T-151st)
- Last Game/Streak: 83-72 Loss vs. UCLA (1L)
USC used a strong finish to the conference season to storm its way to second place in the PAC-12. While they’ve had trouble with some of the other schools at the top of the conference (especially UCLA) they’ve been able to handle the rest of the teams pretty well.
USC is hoping a strong performance in the tournament will give them an argument for a higher seed in the NCAA tournament, as a poor start to the season and a weak overall PAC-12 has left them penciled in for 10th or lower seed in many projected brackets.
While losing star forward Bennie Boatwright earlier in the season hasn’t slowed the Trojans down yet, they still need to prove they can compete against stronger teams without him. A win in the conference tournament could be just the ticket.
Forward Chimezie Metu has led the team in scoring so far this season. He’s done so in spite of the distractions which have swirled around the USC program all season. Metu’s name was one that came up in allegations of athletes accepting payments from school officials. Those allegations have led to the firing of associate coach Tony Bland and the suspension of sophomore De’Anthony Melton. Metu, however, has been cleared by the school’s compliance department.
With much out the team’s front court out of commission, the Trojans may have to rely on their back court in postseason play. It is a strong unit, with Jordan McLaughlin at the point feeding assists to Metu, and Elijah Stewart providing a solid three point shot.
Oregon State has looked capable of beating nearly any team in the conference this year, but has mostly come up short. USC took both wins when the team’s met earlier this year, and I’m not sure the Beavers are ready to change that.
Prediction: USC 78, Oregon State 71
Players to Watch
Chimezie Metu (JR - Forward): The team’s top scorer, and the number one player the Beavers need to account for. Metu just made the first team All Pac-12 team, and its easy to see why. At 6’ 11”, Metu isn’t just one of the conferences best scorers, he also ranks in the top 10 in rebounds and blocks. Drew Eubanks and Seth Berger will have a tall order keeping Metu under control, in what will be one of the game’s most important match-ups.
Jordan McLaughlin (SR - Guard): The Trojans other first team All Pac-12 team member, McLaughlin is not just a prolific scorer, he lead the conference in assists and had the second most steals. As one of the most experienced members of the Trojans, he also displays impressive leadership and play calling abilities.
Elijah Stewart (SR - Guard): With more focus on the USC back court due to their roster troubles, Stewart has emerged as one of the team’s largest scoring threats. He’s the team’s best three point shooter, and the last time he played OSU, went 5 for 5 from behind the line, for a total of 28 points.
- Date: Thursday, March 8th
- Time: 6:00 PM PT
- Location: T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas)
- Coverage: Pac-12 Network