USC, which finished in a three-way tie for eighth place in the Pac-10, will play in the first game of the conference tournament Thursday night in Tucson. The Trojans will play Cal, which also finished in that tie for eighth place along with Washington.
UCLA's first game of the tournament will be Friday night against Washington State.
UCLA finished the season tied for second place with Oregon State. But Oregon State was seeded second and UCLA third because Oregon State swept the Bruins in regular-season play.
USC got the highest seed of the teams tied for eighth because of its 3-1 record against Cal and Washington. And Cal was seeded higher than Washington because it swept their series.
Top-seeded Arizona will meet UCLA only if the Bruins and the Wildcats advance to the final game. Winning the tournament means an automatic berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament.
Whether a second-place finish in the Pac-10 tournament would mean an NCAA at-large bid for the Bruins is hard to guess. As Bruin center Kelvin Butler said, "Everybody is gearing to win the tournament. That's the only way to be sure."
UCLA has let it be known that it would not be interested in an NIT bid for two reasons. First, with the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament being played at Pauley Pavilion March 18 and 20, the Bruins would have to play its first NIT games on the road, and, second, because UCLA is on a quarter system, the players would have to be traveling during final exams. The Bruins would be willing to miss class time for the NCAA tournament, but not for the NIT.