When the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans tip off at roughly 8:30 p.m. PT on Thursday night, much more will be on the line than the season's previous two showdowns between crosstown rivals.
UCLA, at 28-3, enters the Pac-12 Tournament in need of a conference championship in order to have a shot at grasping a No. 1 seed at the Big Dance. Furthermore, an opening round loss would likely put a No. 2 seed out of the Bruins' reach. With a Pac-12 Tournament championship, though, anything is possible.
Click here for an in-depth look at how the conference tournament can shape UCLA's bracket outlook.
For USC, an NCAA Tournament berth is far from secured yet — something that would change with a second upset of a top-10 UCLA squad. The Trojans find themselves on the bubble as Selection Sunday approaches. CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm has USC as a No. 9 seed in his latest projections, while ESPN's Joe Lunardi has them at a No. 11 seed. According to BracketMatrix.com, which compiles projections from a vast array of outlets, the Trojans possess an average seed of 10.90.
Does a loss doom USC? Not at all, but a win on Thursday night would take its fate out of the hands of the selection committee.
Below is a look at some of the numbers for both teams:
- RPI: 16
- SOS: 139
- Wins vs. teams in RPI top-50: @Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, USC, @Arizona
- Losses to teams outside RPI top-50: None
- RPI: 41
- SOS: 85
- Wins vs. teams in RPI top-50: SMU, UCLA
- Losses to teams outside RPI top-50: California, @Utah
Thursday's game will be broadcast on our sister station KEIB AM-1150, with tipoff scheduled for 8:30 p.m. PT. We will join the coverage on AM 570 LA Sports following Clippers postgame.
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