USC finished February with four straight losses and did not post a victory against a team ranked higher than No. 10 in the Pac-12 standings. The last of those losses was the one that hurt the most, a game in which Andy Enfield’s team led the Sun Devils by 10 points with less than three minutes remaining before going on to lose by one.
“We’re going to come back even harder,” Trojan forward Bennie Boatwright said after the loss. “We won’t sulk on it. We just need to wash our hands and move on.”
Despite the skid, USC is still in good shape to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. It began the season at a torrid pace, winning 14 consecutive games.
No win was bigger than the one that came on Jan. 25 inside the Galen Center when the Trojans took care of then-No. 8 UCLA, sending the Bruins home with an 84-76 loss.
If the Selection Committee considers injuries to Hassan Martin and Jarvis Garrett, the Rams might be safer than thought. But for a team that ranked in both polls in November, Rhode Island’s profile is disappointing. Thanks to a weaker Atlantic 10, the Rams are just 2-3 against the Top 50, even though their best victory, one over Cincinnati in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, ended up being the best any conference member earned all year. On the plus side, thanks to Thursday’s results in Pittsburgh, Rhody’s Top 100 record suddenly jumped from 4-7 to 7-7. If the Rams can top St. Bonaventure in this afternoon’s Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals, they just might be able to leap into tomorrow’s projection.
UCLA went 7-0 in the month of February, a month it entered on a two-game losing streak. The Bruins are playing a fun, entertaining brand of basketball, and they might be playing it better than any other team in the country at the moment.