After winning the PAC 10 regular season title for a third consecutive season and winning the PAC 10 tournament for the second time over the past three seasons, UCLA was awarded the top seed in the West Region and they have been given an easy road into the Elite Eight.
USCs road is a lot tougher. They are being shipped out to the Mid West region where they are the sixth seed and will have to open against Kansas State, who features freshman phenom Michael Beasley, who is in the running for the Player of the Year award.
The game will also feature USCs own freshman phenom, OJ Mayo, making that one of the best first-round matchups to watch.
If USC gets past Kansas State theyll most likely have to play third-seeded Wisconsin. If USC can get into the Sweet 16, No. 2 Georgetown, or No. 7 Gonzaga will be waiting for them. Good luck with that one.
UCLA is sitting on easy street. They are a short ride away from their first two games, which are being played in Anaheim. Theyll open against No. 16 Mississippi Valley State, and then either No. 8 BYU or No. 9 Texas A&M will be waiting for them.
The second weekend will not get much tougher, as they will travel to Phoenix. The only team in the West that is in the ball park with UCLA is No. 2 Duke, who they will not have to worry about until the Elite Eight. If Duke trips up, UCLA could have an easy ride into the Final Four.
UCLAs own freshman phenom, Kevin Love, who was named PAC 10 Player of the Year, will not have any problems until the final game of the second weekend.
Defensively UCLA is as good as their last two teams, who both made it to the Final Four. The question is whether they have enough offense to finally win another title. The last two seasons they did not have the firepower to run with Florida, who defeated UCLA in the title game in 2006 and in the Final Four in 2007.
Sophomore Russell Westbrook, who was named PAC 10 Player of the Year, is getting more playing time, which should also give them an offensive boost because of his aggressive play.
UCLA has more experience than the past two seasons. Juniors Darren Collison, Josh Shipp, Luc Richard Mabah a Moute, and Alfred Aboya have all been to two Final Fours.
This has to be the year for UCLA because Love, Collison, and Shipp are more than likely going to leave for the NBA.
USC also has to make some noise this season because OJ Mayo is not expected to come back next year.
The PAC has six teams in the tournament. Oregon, Arizona, Stanford, and Washington State are also in.