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Does USC’s upset of Arizona give them tournament hopes?

Feb 25, 2011, 8:38 AM EDT

With seemingly more pro scouts than fans in attendance and with NBA stars like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Luke Walton checking the game out, one big man shined in No. 10 Arizona’s trip to USC.

And it wasn’t who you think.

Nikola Vucevic had 25 points and 12 boards and helped hold Derrick Williams to a season-low eight points as the Trojans notched a 65-57 win over the Wildcats.

Its a significant loss for Arizona, who came in with a commanding two game lead in the Pac-10 race. With UCLA’s victory over Arizona State Thursday night, Sean Miller’s team is now forced to head into their date with the Bruins with first place in the conference on the line. The Wildcats can clinch a share of the Pac-10 regular season title with a win, but there is the potential drop back into a first place tie with a loss.

The more interesting storyline from this outcome actually involves USC.

The Trojans are just 8-7 in the Pac-10 and 16-12 overall with this win. Their RPI is in the 80′s. They also have some ugly losses this seas, including going 1-3 versus the Oregon schools and losses to Rider, Bradley, and TCU.

They also have some impressive wins, having beaten Texas, Tennessee, UCLA, and now Arizona. If the Trojans can win out, they become an interesting case.

You see, Jio Fontan, the talented point guard who transferred in from Fordham and scored 21 points last night, joined the team midseason and was not part of the Trojan’s three ugly non-conference losses. The NCAA Tournament Committee will take that into account.

Let’s say that USC wins their last three regular season games, including a road trip to the Washington schools, and then makes a run to the Pac-10 tournament finals while beating both Washington and UCLA on the trip, then you are going to have to take a good, hard look as the Trojan’s tournament resume.

Its a long shot, but I’m telling you there’s a chance.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

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