Although it's just been four days, it seems like it's been more like 96 hours (more precisely 90 hours) at Staples Center for me. And now it's almost time for the championship game (tipoff should be 3:10 pm PT) and the right for one team to automatically go to the NCAA championship game and then engage in a semantic battle with UCLA over who was the "Pac-10 champion."
Today's game will match up the Ducks of Oregon (25-7), the #4 seed, and the Trojans of Southern California (23-10), the #3 seed. This is a rematch of the 2003 final, which Oregon won 74-56. That year Oregon was the #5 seed and USC was the #7 seed.
The Ducks have cruised in their first two games, easily dispatching Arizona (69-50) and Cal (81-63). Tajuan Porter has made 11 of 16 three point shots and scored 45 points in the first two games. Porter is three three-pointers short of teammate Chamberlain Oguchi's record for most three pointers in a Pac-10 tournament. The Ducks shot 62.5% from the field against the Bears.
USC had a bad first half in its opener against Stanford, but then rallied for an 83-79 overtime win, and then avenged two regular season losses with a 70-61 win over Washington State. Gabe Pruitt has hit 10 of 13 three pointers in the first two games and was 6 of 7 against the Cougars.
USC beat Oregon both times in the regular season. The Trojans handed Oregon their first loss of the season after a 13-0 start with an 84-82 win in Eugene on January 4. USC led 84-81 when Aaron Brooks was fouled on a three-point attempt with one second left. Brooks, one of the best free throw shooters in the conference, made the first, then missed the second, and had to deliberately miss the third to give Oregon a chance at a putback which didn't happen.
The Trojans beat Oregon again in Los Angeles on February 3 by a 71-68 margin. The Trojans led throughout and the Ducks made a late comeback to make the score close. That was during a stretch when the Ducks lost 6 of 8 games. But the Ducks have won their last five.
This will be the 100th time that USC and Oregon have played each other in basketball. USC leads the series 58-41. Surprisingly, for teams that have played each other in football as early as 1915, the two teams did not play each other in basketball until 1957. By comparison, Oregon has played intrastate rival Oregon State 327 times. USC has played UCLA in basketball 223 times.
The hotly contested Griddle contest is down to just two contestants:
1) Trojan Ron, who has picked Oregon in the final.
2) Tom Meagher, who has chosen USC.
Here are the updated scores. Vishal would also end up with 7 points if Oregon wins, the same as Trojan Ron, but since Trojan Ron has picked both teams in the final, he gets the tiebreaker edge.