If you’d have told me after the first four Pac-12 games that the Washington Huskies would eventually be 5-5 in conference, I’d have said no way. The Huskies raced out to a 4-0 start in league play with an average margin of victory close to nine points per game. Then it all began to unravel as they lost to Pac-12 doormats Utah and Oregon State before ultimately dropping four of five in conference, bringing them to the aforementioned 5-5 record.
Lorenzo Romar‘s Huskies are very, very average this season, a year removed from a Final Four appearance in the NIT. Part of the reason for their struggles? Their offense is predicated on jump shots and they just haven’t been making enough of them. They’re connecting on 44 percent of their field goal attempts, which in this game could be enough to win, as USC shoots only 42.9 percent. Washington’s offense is led by the Pac-12′s fourth-leading scorer, C.J. Wilcox (18.1 PPG), though he’s eclipsed his average only once in the last five games.
USC actually has the second-best scoring offense (70.4) in conference but they also sport the second-worst scoring defense (72.1). Senior Eric Wise is their horse, averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. His rebounding numbers are slightly better in conference games, where he pulls down 6.7 RPG. The Trojans will need every one of his points and rebounds if they expect to hold on for a win tonight at the Galen Center, where they’re only 7-5. He’ll need to get back on track–he’s only cracked double-digit points once in the last three games.
This game has little impact on the hierarchy of the Pac-12–Arizona and Oregon–but will matter when it comes to the secondary and tertiary postseason tournaments. Washington is probably headed to the NIT again while USC should earn at least a trip to the College Basketball Invitational.
As for tonight, it’s a coin toss, but I’ll go with the home team in typical ugly Pac-12 fashion.