A lot of writers in L.A. pinned USC as the wildcard for this tournament, saying they were healthy for the first time all season. Up here in South Alaska, I scoffed at that idea. USC had lost 6 of 7 coming in! If anything, our beloved Cougars were the darkhorse that had the best chance out of the lower seeds to pull off an improbable run.
Well there is an old adage in baseball that says you are only as good as your next starting pitcher. For the Cougs, they are only as good as Klay Thompson's jump shot. USC, on the other hand, has played as well as they have all season and made beating UCLA look fairly easy last night. Remember this team took Blake Griffin and Oklahoma to the wire in Norman early on in the non-conference schedule, so they have the talent to compete with anyone.
Most of us on this site had written off ASU following their embarrassing loss to Stanford. They certainly have responded. Rattling off consecutive wins over Cal, 'Zona, and UW. Apparently those tired legs were nothing but a myth.
ASU and USC split the season series. USC won handily at the Galen Center. ASU won with the help of a questionable late game charge call on Daniel Hackett at Wells Fargo arena (the Pac 10 referee special).
I agree with Grady, let's root for USC in this one. That will be one less team to compete with for the NIT. I don't think the boost of having beat the Pac 10 tournament champ twice on the resume outweighs taking USC out of the equation altogether.
To talk with some more nervous folks, and better analysis than I am able to provide, head on over to Conquest Chronicles and House of Sparky for their game threads.