Southern California Trojans
Pacific 10 (21-12, 9-9)
Big Wins: 1/15 Arizona State (61-49), 3/13 vs UCLA (65-55), 3/14 vs Arizona State (66-63)
Bad Losses: 1/4 at Oregon State (58-62), 2/12 at Arizona (76-83), 2/28 at Stanford (63-75)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, First Round loss to Kansas State
Coach: Tim Floyd (6-7 in 7 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Pretty much on his own Taj Gibson has turned USC into a good rebounding and shot blocking team. Gibson is fifth in the NCAA averaging 2.9 blocks per game and he ranks in the top 30 with 9.4 rebounds per contest. But that is not all Gibson can do; the 6-9 junior is also a great scorer in the paint.
He deserves most of the credit, but Gibson needed some help to turn USC from a team with a negative rebounding margin a year ago into a team that outrebounds their opponents by 4.9 per game. Leonard Washington and Keith Wilkinson are tough rebounders who are limited in their offensive output. Small forward DeMar DeRozan on the other hand helps on the glass and in the scoring column. The 6-7 freshman has not dominated like some other recent freshman at USC, but he ended the regular season averaging 13.6 points and 5.7 rebounds. He started a little slow, but DeRozan has done a great job during Pac-10 play and his addition makes the Trojans an athletic and offensively dynamic team.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Dwight Lewis and Daniel Hackett are not bad players, but the deficiencies stem from those two on the perimeter. USC only connects on 3.7 three-pointers per game. That is one of the lowest numbers you will see in that category in all of Division I basketball. The Trojans have done alright dealing with the lack of shooting, but it makes it so much easier for the opposition to pack in on the defensive side of the floor and stop the big guys and the slashers. The other concern in the backcourt is the turnovers. USC commits 14.1 per contest only barely beating out Oregon and Washington for eighth in the conference and that falls on the shoulders of point guard Hackett.
Who To Watch:
After Gibson, DeRozan, Lewis and Hackett, the men of Troy have limited scoring options. Those four all average over 33 minutes per game. There are six other players who average between ten and 20 minutes. Leonard Washington, Marcus Johnson and Nikola Vucevic have all missed some games for one reason or another and have spent much of the time they have been available trying to figure out their role on the team. Coach Tim Floyd knows when he wants to use them, but it has been difficult for everybody to develop a rhythm. If the roleplayers start to find their groove in the tournament, it can do nothing but help the starters and the entire team.
Daniel Hackett, Junior, Guard, 12.5 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.2 rpg
Dwight Lewis, Junior, Guard, 14.1 ppg, 2.1 apg
DeMar DeRozan, Freshman, Forward, 13.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg
Taj Gibson, Junior, Forward, 14.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg
Keith Wilkinson, Senior, Forward, 2.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Marcus Johnson, Senior, Forward, 3.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Nikola Vucevic, Freshman, Forward, 2.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Leonard Washington, Freshman, Forward, 6.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.2 (163rd in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.4 (66, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.3 (36, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.7 (52, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 3.7 (323, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: na
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.9 (233, 9)
Rebound Margin: 4.9 (39, 2)
Assists Per Game: 12.5 (205, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.1 (180, 8)
Following the Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!