How would USC men’s basketball stack up in this year’s Big Ten Conference?
In the 2024-25 season, USC will have a new home — the Big Ten.
In the 2024-25 season, USC will have a new home. The Big Ten.
So that begs the question: how would USC do if the Trojans were in the conference now?
Obviously without playing in the conference, it’s impossible to know exactly how the Trojans would stack up in this year’s Big Ten. But let’s look at some overall college hoops metrics to try and answer the question.
The NCAA’s NET rankings are the primary sorting tool for evaluating teams. USC currently sits at No. 52 in the NET. As of Feb. 3, eight Big 10 teams are ahead of the Trojans. Those teams are Purdue (3), Rutgers (19), Indiana (22), Illinois (25), Maryland (30), Iowa (33), Ohio State (36) and Michigan State (47). Only two Pac-12 teams are ahead of USC in NET — UCLA (5) and Arizona (10).
Ken Pomeroy, a college basketball analytics expert, currently ranks USC as the No. 40 team in the country. The seven Big Ten teams ahead of USC in the KenPom rankings are Purdue (3), Rutgers (17), Indiana (21), Illinois (22), Maryland (29), Ohio State (32) and Iowa (33). Once again, only UCLA (5) and Arizona (11) are ahead of USC from the Pac-12.
It’s going to be much tougher for USC in the Big Ten, but that could be a blessing in disguise. The conference is a better men’s college basketball conference than the Pac-12 and that’s been the case for years. Last season, nine Big Ten teams made the Big Dance compared to three from the Pac-12. In 2021, the Big Ten also had nine teams make it and the Pac-12 had five.
It’s a double sided coin though. A better conference means more opportunities for better wins. Ohio State is 11-11 and ranked ahead of 16-6 USC in both NET and KenPom. USC most likely won’t be able to stack up the same number of wins in Big Ten play like they’ve done in the Pac-12 over the last three years, but the Trojans will be more battle tested.
So to answer the initial question posed…
If USC played in the Big Ten this season, they’d most likely finish somewhere in the middle of the conference. Purdue is like Arizona, but USC is in the same neighborhood as the other good teams in the Big Ten this year. Between the travel and the step up in competition, somewhere between fifth and ninth would make sense.
USC is 0-1 against Big Ten teams this season after a 64-59 November defeat to Wisconsin in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Badgers are currently in 11th place in the Big Ten. USC is much improved since November thanks to the addition of freshman center Vince Iwuchukwu and younger players like Tre White and Kobe Johnson gaining more experience.