USC faces uncertain postseason destiny

first_imgTrevor Sochocki | Daily TrojanHeads up · Junior guard Jordan McLaughlin looks to captain the Trojans to victory against Washington on Saturday to wrap up the regular season.Two weeks ago, the men’s basketball team may have looked forward to Saturday’s matchup against Washington, hoping to use the game to build momentum heading into the postseason. With the Trojans stumbling to the finish line, however, their date with the Huskies is no longer an opportunity, but a mandatory assignment.Once a foregone conclusion, USC’s spot in the NCAA tournament is now in jeopardy. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his latest projections on Thursday, listing the Trojans as one of the last four teams into March Madness. The tipping point came last weekend, when USC squandered a double-digit lead to lose at Arizona State. The Trojans may need the victory over Washington — possibly more at the Pac-12 tournament next week — to secure a berth in the Big Dance.Shelby Mast, who runs the website Bracket W.A.G. and works as USA Today’s bracketologist, weighed in on the Trojans postseason prospects.“[The loss] affected them quite a bit,” she said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “They better not lose [to the Huskies].”Missing out on March Madness would spell disaster for head coach Andy Enfield and his squad. The program has made impressive strides since his arrival in 2013, making it into the tourney for the first time in his tenure last year. USC came into this season hoping to build on its first-round exit versus Providence in 2016, but it may not get the opportunity to do so if it fails to execute against Washington.But amid the noise surrounding the team’s postseason prospects, the Trojans are keeping their heads down.“We’ve all been playing basketball for a little while. We know the ins and outs, the politics behind everything,” junior guard Elijah Stewart told the Los Angeles Times. “We just know if you have a certain amount of wins, you don’t have to be concerned about the bubble. If we keep going and make strong strides in the Pac-12 tournament, I feel like we should be fine.”USC may have caught a break, too, as the Huskies’ projected first-round NBA draft pick, freshman guard Markelle Fultz, is expected to miss Saturday’s game with a knee injury. Fultz led his team with 20 points and six assists against the Trojans when they visited Seattle last month, and Washington (2-15 in Pac-12 play) faces a tall challenge without its star. The team is already in the midst of an ugly 11-game losing streak, which USC will look to extend this weekend.With the Trojans on the bubble for the NCAA tournament (and unlikely to earn an automatic bid by winning the Pac-12 championship), their postseason fate will ultimately be determined by the selection committee, and Enfield appealed to USC’s strength of schedule heading into the regular season’s final weekend.“That decision is not up to us or me,” Enfield said. “I really have no idea. I think a lot depends on teams around the country. We have a good RPI: UCLA’s ranked third [in the AP top 25], and we beat them. SMU’s ranked 14th, and we beat them. So we have some really good wins.”A strong victory over Washington would further strengthen the Trojans’ resume — and Enfield hopes his team can also add a few more wins next week in Las Vegas.last_img read more

A look at Novak Djokovic’s seven Australian Open titles

first_imgAlmost half of Djokovic’s grand slams have come in Melbourne, including his first in 2008.We take a look back at all of his Australian Open successes. Related News .@DjokerNole reunited with Norman once again.#AusOpen #AusOpenFinal— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 20192008 – A maiden grand slam titleAged 20, this was Djokovic’s fourth main-draw appearance in Melbourne and his previous best had been the fourth round the year prior.But he produced a flying run to the final, beating Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets in the last 16 and top seed Roger Federer in the semis.Djokovic, the third seed, was left with a surprise opponent in the final and he made the most of his chance, coming from a set down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.It was the first grand slam since the 2005 Australian Open not won by either Federer or Nadal.#OnThisDay in 2008.Novak Djokovic wins his first Australian Open.11 years later, he is one win away from the most titles in Australian Open history.#AusOpen— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 20192011 – The beginning of complete Melbourne dominanceDjokovic had to wait three years for his second title in Melbourne, but it started a wonderful run of dominance.He was largely untouchable again on his way to the final, including wins over top-10 seeds Tomas Berdych and Federer.Djokovic crushed Andy Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 in the decider to win the first of an incredible three grand slams in 2011. 2012 – Coming through two epicsThis would be a major best remembered for two matches – Djokovic’s semi and final.He took almost five hours to get past Murray in the last four in a match that seemed certain to ruin his chances in the decider.Somehow, Djokovic came through that too, beating Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 in the longest Open Era grand slam final, which went for a gruelling five hours, 53 minutes.“That stays as probably the most epic match and special match I was part of, without a doubt” — @DjokerNole on the 2012 #AusOpen⁠⁠ final vs #Nadal.Will tonight’s final, seven years later, dethrone the 2012 final in his memory bank?— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 20192013 – Hat-trick completeDjokovic extended his winning streak at the Australian Open to 21 matches with a third straight title.He became the first man in the Open Era to win a hat-trick of titles in Melbourne.Djokovic took five hours to get past Stan Wawrinka – the man who would break his run the following year – in the fourth round before again beating Murray in a final. 2015 – Another Wawrinka marathon, another Murray finalFernando Verdasco and Milos Raonic were unable to stop Djokovic and, this time, Wawrinka failed too.Djokovic beat the Swiss star in a five-set semi-final before a familiar face stood between him and another title.Murray managed to split the first two sets, but Djokovic ran away with it from there 6-3 6-0 for a fifth crown.Our 2015 winner, Novak Djokovic, thanks his supporters. –— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 1, 20152016 ­– Record equaled after Simon scareIt was the fourth round that proved to be the biggest scare in Djokovic’s bid for a record-equaling sixth Australian Open title.But he got through another grueling five-setter, this time against French 14th seed Gilles Simon.Kei Nishikori, Federer and Murray were unable to stop him from there as Djokovic joined Roy Emerson on six Australian Open crowns. 2019 – Record claimed in flawless fashionFor a six-time champion and the world number one, this seemed like a quiet run by Djokovic. He dispatched of up-and-comers Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev, spent less than an hour on court with an exhausted Nishikori and was almost flawless against Lucas Pouille.Only Nadal stood between him and a record seventh Australian Open title in a repeat of their epic 2012 final.And Djokovic may have saved his best performance for the final, dismantling Nadal in just over two hours. 2008 2011 2012 2013 2015 2016 2019@DjokerNole #AOChampion | #AusOpen |#AusOpenFinal— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2019 MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic secured a record seventh Australian Open title with his thrashing of Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final.The Serbian star moved on to 15 major crowns after dismantling Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena. Australian Open 2019: Novak Djokovic brushes aside Rafael Nadal to reign againlast_img read more