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Struggling Trojans are dropping into NCAA bubble territory

Struggling Trojans are dropping into NCAA bubble territory
Julian Jacobs (12) celebrates with teammates Elijah Stewar (30), and Nikola Jovanovic (32) during USC's 79-72 victory over Colorado on Feb. 17 at the Galen Center. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Before Thursday, even amid a difficult February, USC had little reason to worry about its NCAA tournament hopes.

Then Stanford trounced the Trojans, 84-64. It was their fourth loss in five games.

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Suddenly, USC (19-9, 8-7 Pac-12 Conference) is hurtling toward the bubble.

The prediction website TeamRankings.com still gives USC a 67% chance to make the tournament. But its projections indicate USC needs at least two more wins, and probably three more, to earn a bid.

That is not a given. On Sunday, USC will play at California, which hasn't lost a home game all season. Then USC will finish against Oregon State and Oregon, two teams that defeated USC earlier this season.

Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean said USC may be in trouble.

"It looks different the last week or two," MacLean said. "Defensively they're not as committed. The game is not as fast. Teams have figured out how to make the game slower so that USC can't capitalize on their athleticism. I'm not sure how they're going to spin that back around."

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand

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