Another road trip for the USC Men's Basketball team resulted in another brutal pair of conference losses for the Trojans. Over the weekend, USC took a trip to the Bay Area and was swept by Stanford and Cal; losing both contests by 20 or more points.
The Trojans' recent slump has extended far beyond this past weekend. While the team has tallied an impressive 15-1 home record at the Galen Center this season, they have experienced a tragically opposite result in their road performances.
USC has suffered six consecutive losses on the road — the last road win for the Trojans came back on Jan. 13 against UCLA in Westwood. The Trojans, who find themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak, bear a 1-5 overall record in their last six contests.
With the pair of losses this past weekend, USC falls to 19-10 overall and 8-8 in conference play. The team's recent struggles have dropped them back to sixth place in the PAC-12 standings.
In ESPN's most recent Bracketology projections by Joe Lunardi, the Trojans were surprisingly projected as an eight-seed in the Midwestern bracket of the NCAA Tournament. Despite the recent slump, USC was still promoted to the eight-seed after being projected as a nine-seed in last week's Bracketology. Lunardi's projected bracket currently has USC playing Syracuse in the opening round of the tournament.
With two games remaining in the regular season and the top-four spots in the PAC-12 standings virtually out of reach, the Trojans have several crucial scenarios to handle heading into the final week:
Scenario No. 1: USC wins out in final two games, and gets some help.
This would be the dream scenario for USC. The Trojans host Oregon State Wednesday and No. 9 Oregon Sunday at their beloved Galen Center to wrap up the regular season. If USC winds up winning out, and Colorado loses their season finale against No. 13 Utah, the Trojans could take the fifth position in the conference standings — as they own the season tiebreaker against Colorado.
Unfortunately, even if the Trojans finish 2-0 this upcoming week and No. 18 Arizona loses out, the Wildcats would still possess the better overall record and retain the fourth position in the conference standings. Regardless of whether USC gets the help needed from a Colorado loss or not, the Trojans would take winning out this week as a huge confidence boost heading into the PAC-12 Tournament next week.
USC loses one or both of its games this week.
Here is a nightmarish prospect for the Trojans. USC is followed closely in the conference standings by Oregon State and Stanford, two teams who have defeated the Trojans this season in convincing fashion. Should the Trojans fall to the Beavers on Wednesday night at home, they would instantly be leapfrogged by Oregon State in the conference standings.
If another loss came in the season finale on Sunday against conference-leading Oregon — who has already defeated USC this season — then the Trojans are in great danger of falling to the eight-seed, or worse, in the final PAC-12 standings.
One thing is obvious: this is not just a crucial week for the Trojans, but also one that could have a detrimental impact on the team's postseason hopes.
Wins against Oregon State and Oregon would be the perfect playoff push for the Trojans heading into the PAC-12 Tournament, which kicks off next Wednesday. However, just one loss against either opponent could bump the Trojans into a very unfavorable playoff position to make things very gloom come tournament time.