The 2011 NCAA Tournament begins next week, and Selection Sunday is a mere four days away. Barring upsets in the Pac-10 Conference Tournament this week, the Pac-10 figures to receive just three bids to March Madness, with Arizona, UCLA, and Washington looking like locks for the tournament in the latest installment of Bracketology by Chris Dobbertean on SB Nation. However, the USC Trojans are close enough to the dance that a few wins this week could push them into the fray.
The UCLA Bruins currently project as a No. 8 seed in the West Region, matching up with Gonzaga in the first round, in what will be a great west coast battle. No. 1 seed Notre Dame looms in the second round for the winner of this game.
USC was one of the last four teams out of the bracket projection, so they need to force their way in with some wins this week. The Trojans play the Cal Bears on Thursday at noon, and face a potential second-round matchup with No. 1 seed Arizona, which is shaping up into a much-needed win for USC.
Arizona projects as a No. 5 seed in the Southwest Region, matching up with either Michigan State or Virginia Tech in the first round. Washington is seen as a No 11 seed in the East Region, facing Virginia Tech in round one. If the Huskies were to lose for a third time to Washington State on Thursday, they could perhaps find themselves on the outside looking in. Speaking of Washington State, Dobbertean has them as the fifth team out, so they probably need some wins in the Pac-10 tournament (over Washington and UCLA) to get in.
For more local NCAA hoops news and information, be sure to read Bruins Nation and Conquest Chronicles.