Impeccable timing by USC's DeMar DeRozan, who seems to have come of age as college basketball takes center stage. . . . .
Of course, that might be a good news/bad news situation for the Trojans, who saw Mark Sanchez turn a dominating Rose Bowl into an early exit -- much to Pete Carroll's displeasure. . . .
Is Jrue Holiday next? . . .
UCLA has made more trips to the Final Four than USC has made NCAA tournament appearances. . . .
USC last reached the Final Four in 1954. . . .
Darren Collison and UCLA flew about 2,400 miles to Philadelphia for their game against Virginia Commonwealth, farther than any other team in the field. . . .
Villanova, which might play UCLA in the second round, is only about a 30-minute drive from the Wachovia Center. . . .
Boston College Coach Al Skinner, whose team plays USC on Friday night at Minneapolis, is nicknamed "Coach Handsome" because of his unimpeachable fashion sense. . . .
Tim Floyd stuffed a clip-on tie into his pocket for good luck during the Pac-10 tournament -- a gift from the widow of former Texas El Paso coach Don Haskins, his former boss. . . .
Skinner was Julius Erving's teammate at Massachusetts. . . .
Hey now: Alfred Aboya and UCLA hope that VCU's shot-blocking sophomore center won't turn this evening's late-night special into the Larry Sanders show. . . .
UCLA has reached the Final Four 18 times, but never in a season in which the Bruins played their opening NCAA tournament game east of Albuquerque. . . .
USA Today, citing Nielsen data, reports that nearly 20% of households in Louisville, Ky., tuned in to the NCAA tournament over the last five years -- about three times the national average and sure to climb this year if Rick Pitino's Cardinals keep winning. . . .
Duke has not reached the Final Four since 2004. . . .
Noting that a local Wal-Mart still carries "Matador Football" sweatshirts and T-shirts, even though Cal State Northridge dropped the sport years ago, reader and CSUN graduate Ken Feldman of Porter Ranch e-mails to suggest, "Now that we've made the 'Big Dance' for the second time, maybe our basketball team will get more acclaim than our erstwhile football team." . . .
CSUN's Mark Hill, a transfer from Tulsa, gets another crack at Memphis after twice losing by double-digit margins to the Tigers in Conference USA games two seasons ago. . . .
Chubby Cox, point guard for the Bill Cartwright-led San Francisco team that was ranked No. 1 in the 1976-77 season but lost to Nevada Las Vegas in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, is Kobe Bryant's uncle. . . .
Cox's sister, Pam, is Bryant's mother. . . .
Bryant, of course, never played college basketball, nor did five of his Lakers teammates -- Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, DJ Mbenga, Sasha Vujacic and Sun Yue. . . .
Clippers rookie Eric Gordon helped Indiana reach the NCAA tournament a year ago, but this year the Hoosiers and Kentucky both were left out for the first time since 1979. . . .
Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie, on his job status, "I got married one time, and that honeymoon didn't last long either." . . .
Indiana and Kentucky have won 12 titles between them. ...
After this year's pairings were announced Sunday, UCLA Coach Ben Howland said, "We're the underdog now." . . .
In tonight's game, UCLA is favored by seven points. . . .
USC is favored by two points over Boston College, and CSUN is a 19 1/2 -point underdog against Memphis. . . .
Taj Gibson and the Trojans defeated three NCAA tournament teams en route to their first Pac-10 tournament title. . . .
Syracuse is offering framed copies of the box score from its epic six-overtime victory over Connecticut in the quarterfinals of last week's Big East Conference tournament. . . .
Price: $69, or $99 if signed by Coach Jim Boeheim. . . .
Notes fashion critic Lien Na of Hollywood.com, explaining why Radford's kilt-wearing Highlander is her choice as the best-dressed mascot in the NCAA tournament field: "Naughty schoolgirl skirts will never, ever go out of style." . . .
Even when worn by bearded men? . . .
UCLA is a 35-1 shot to win its 12th title, according to odds posted at BetUS.com, while USC is listed at 80-1, Northridge at 1,500-1 and tournament favorite North Carolina at 3-1. . . .
After the first round is completed Friday night, teams seeded 16th will have an all-time record of 0-100. . . .
The Lakers-loving father of Washington freshman Isaiah Thomas, who helped the Huskies to a No. 4 seeding in the West Regional, named his son after ex-Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas because he lost a bet during the 1989 NBA Finals. . . .
Isaiah's understanding mother must know March Madness.