Three games left before the Pac-10 crowns a champion. Three of the top four seeds are left, along with a surprise semifinal participant.
The first semifinal looks a little different right now, as we've learned that USC coach Kevin O'Neill has been suspended for the remainder of the Pac-10 tournament.
No. 4 USC vs. No. 1 Arizona, 9:10 p.m. ET
USC got here by virtue of a 14-point win over Cal. For Arizona, it was a 78-69 win over Oregon State that looks closer than it really was. The Trojans and Wildcats split their season series, so it's no foregone conclusion as to how this one will play out. Playing in L.A. could give USC a bit of a home-crowd advantage, unless UCLA fans show up to boo them mercilessly. The Trojans got a great game from North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson, who went for 14 points and 16 rebounds in the win over Cal, on a night when Nikola Vucevic had trouble finding his shot. Guards Jio Fontan, Donte Smith and Maurice Jones each contributed double-figure scoring as well, which is a good sign for the Trojans this late in the season. Arizona, of course, is the Derrick Williams show. If he's on like he was against the Beavers (22 points, 5-6 from three), he'll be pretty much unstoppable once again.
No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 3 Washington, 11:40 p.m. ET
This side of the Pac-10 bracket was almost the all-Cinderella side. Oregon actually closed out its surprising win over 2-seed UCLA, while Washington State ran out of gas in spite of 43 from Klay Thompson in the nightcap. Oregon's top player throughout the season has been Joevan Catron, but it was sophomore E.J. Singler who came alive in the upset, scoring 24 points as the Duck defense shut down UCLA's inside production. Thompson's eight made three-pointers would seem to indicate that Venoy Overton's absence is hurting the Washington perimeter defense, but it's unlikely that the Ducks will have the right combination of players to exploit that weakness. Then again, it didn't seem particularly likely that they'd be able to slow UCLA on the inside, either. But here we are.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted by Eric Angevine
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