USC Needs To Keep Rice On The Side

It’s a little hard to tell exactly what you will get from Boston College on any given night. They have shown they can be elite, with wins against North Carolina and Duke.

And they have lost to Harvard.

But one thing you know you will get is Tyrese Rice, the point guard that leads the Golden Eagles in points (17.1) and assists (5.3) per game. Rice will remind Trojan fans of UCLA’s Darren Collison — explosively quick with a great first step, and creative once he gets into the lane.

USC's Marcus Simmons did a good job on Collison, and other stellar Pac-10 point guards in the conference tournament last week. If he can repeat that effort the Trojans will be in good shape as Rice is the guy who sets the table for everyhing else Boston College does.

Meanwhile, USC creates a couple of serious matchup problems of their own for BC.

First is freshman DeMar DeRozan, who has come into his own — and become what USC fans hoped for — in recent games. In the five-game winning streak USC brings into the tournament, DeRozan is shooting 62%, which was good enough to get him named outstanding player of the Pac-10 tournament. And BC has nobody that should be able to hang with DeRozan.

With all the firepower on the wings, this game may be won in the paint.

USC has the best paint player in this game in Taj Gibson, who averages 14.3 points per game and usually at least one spectacular shot block. The junior is far more athletic than anyone Boston College has to cover him.

However, Boston College brings depth. They have 6-8 Joe Trapani, who scores 13.5 points per game and is often the beneficiary of what Rice can set up. BC also has 6-10, 242-pound Josh Southern, who is not the most skilled guy but is a big body to keep off the boards.

In the recent five-game win streak, USC has shown a mental toughness it lacked much of the season. If the Trojans bring that, it may not matter which Boston College team shows up.

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