Can USC and UCLA Make Runs? Thoughts for the 2009 NCAA Tournament, Part One

Chris ChanCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2009

First of all, I am a USC Trojan alum, and I will stand by my team until they lose, so comments regarding them are not up for debate. Let’s start off with them.


USC Trojans

I have to admit I was surprised that they won the Pac-10 tournament. On one hand, many of their regular season losses have come down to the wire, and USC wound up on the short end. However, the Trojans always seem to falter in this tournament.

What impressed me the most about this team is the passion they played with in the tournament. Knowing that every game was a “win or season is over” sparked an aggressive mentality throughout the team.

There are many stars on the team with Daniel Hackett, who understood how his role changed throughout the game. Dwight Lewis started to take more of the high percentage shots. Taj Gibson did his normal job of sweeping the boards and altering shots (particularly against James Harden in the final).

Of course, DeMar DeRozan finally has arrived. I think he finally understands how to play at this level. Another reason to his breakout is that he has more freedom within Tim Floyd’s system, a role that O.J. Mayo opened up for him. Look for a new offensive gameplan from the Trojans that showcases more of DeRozan’s athleticism.

The Trojans should be able to win their first round game. Boston College has one star, Tyrese Rice, and lately USC has been able to shut down single stars (see James Harden, Darren Collison, and Jerome Randle). I think it’ll be close for most of the game, but I’m picking USC by 10.


NCAA Selection Committee

I respect the Big East and think they are the strongest conference this year from top to bottom, but three No. 1 seeds? That’s a bit much. However, I am picking UConn to win it all this year.

As much as I am a Trojan, UCLA got robbed. This is a team that has been to three straight Final Fours. I guess the committee wanted them to earn their fourth consecutive. UCLA has to travel all the way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for their game.

I’m not mad about that. What irks me is that their opponents are practically driving distance from their home arena. What kind of a neutral court is this? UCLA has to essentially play two straight road games against quality opponents.

Now, I think UCLA will win both, but the game should be played someplace far from all the involved campuses, in Canada if we have to.


All in all, there are no clear-cut favorites, and I’m expecting madness and all of my brackets to fail. As I mentioned earlier, I’m picking UConn to win it all and the Final Four to consist of UConn, UNC, UCLA, and either USC (I’m hoping) or Michigan State (defense will pay off).