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USC REPORT

NCAA destinations can stir memories for Floyd

February 27, 2007|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Meet me in New Orleans. Or Chicago would do just fine.

There are several intriguing story lines involving No. 23-ranked USC and the site of what could be its first-round game in the NCAA tournament.

If the Trojans play at the United Center in Chicago, it would be a reunion of sorts for Tim Floyd, who coached the Chicago Bulls for three-plus seasons in that building.

A pair of USC victories at a place where Floyd compiled half of his 52-194 record with the Bulls could have a redeeming quality.

Plus, Floyd would get to eat at his favorite Italian restaurant, Rosebud on Taylor.

If the Trojans are sent to New Orleans, they would play in the city where Floyd had more successful coaching stints -- he guided the New Orleans Privateers to the NCAA tournament twice in his six years there, and later took the New Orleans Hornets to the playoffs during his only season with that NBA franchise.

"I'd love to go get a shrimp po' boy if we could be in New Orleans," Floyd said Monday. "But outside of that, there are going to be quality teams and the same worries going into any opponent."

USC might have an emotional edge playing close to the home of Ryan Francis, the freshman point guard who was fatally shot last May in Baton Rouge, La.

"I hope they play in New Orleans," Ryan's mother, Paulette Francis, said Saturday at the Galen Center after USC defeated California, 84-66.

However, the NCAA tournament selection committee does not take into account sentimental story lines when it fills out its brackets, a group of sportswriters recently learned during a mock selection process.

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The difference between finishing second or third in the Pacific 10 Conference standings could have a significant impact on USC's fortunes in the postseason conference tournament.

If the season ended today, USC would have the No. 3 seeding and play Stanford, which handed the Trojans their worst loss in conference play.

But if USC can overtake Washington State this week to claim the No. 2 seeding, the Trojans would play the winner of a first-round game between last-place Arizona State and California or Washington -- teams that are a combined 1-4 against USC.

To finish second in the Pac-10, the Trojans (11-5 in conference) need Washington State (12-4) to lose its final two home games -- to UCLA on Thursday and USC on Saturday.

A Washington State victory over the Bruins would clinch second place for the Cougars even if they lose to USC because they would have the tiebreaker edge over the Trojans, having beaten the conference's top team.

USC is 0-2 against UCLA.

USC could grab the No. 2 seeding even with a loss to Washington on Thursday as long as Washington State loses its final two games.

In that scenario, the Trojans would have the tiebreaker edge over the Cougars because they have identical conference records against UCLA, Stanford and Arizona but have won both meetings with Oregon. Washington State is 0-2 against the Ducks.

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An 0-3 finish that included a loss in a Pac-10 tournament quarterfinal probably would not keep USC out of the NCAA tournament.

Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, only four of 19 teams that finished 11-7 in the Pac-10 failed to advance to the NCAA tournament.

Of the four, only Stanford, which finished 21-12 in 1988, tallied at least 20 victories overall.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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