The bracketeria man says: USC’s teetering disposition in Region 68 Purgatory pushes them closer to a NIT purge

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The fact we live in a world where someone can make a living simply analyzing the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament brackets all year is beyond bizarre enough to begin with.

That ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is a self-certified “bracketologist” who actually does this job very well makes it even more mindnumbing.

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On his often-updated website (linked here), where the field and seedings are constantly up and down graded based on the latest morsel of information, we’ve noticed that USC has been sitting in this group called “first four out” since January (today, they’re joined by Washington State, Missouri State and Alabama), which sits precariously behind another group of four teams that are “on the bubble” (at this moment: Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Colorado and Georgia).

Swallowing our pride and another blast of “5 Hour Energy,” we asked Lunardi to explain this phenomonial Trojan Purgatory Phenomenon and what, at this point, can be done to make it go away.

Lunardi, who also does radio color for St. Joseph’s games in Philadelphia, started his answer with a joke: “I’ve been putting them there all year hoping that someone will invite me to an event in Southern California since its been so dreary in the East Coast.”

But all kidding aside, bracket boy, spit out your knowledge:

“Who do they have in the (Pac-10 conference tournament first round on Thursday)? Cal? They (the Trojans) have to win at least two games, and probably the automatic (bid, which means winning the tournament) unless the bubble (above them) falls apart and a whole lot more happens. This season has been very uneven, some bad losses — I’ve seen Rider, and they’re a nice team, but not an NCAA team. And the Pac-10 isn’t giving them a lot of juice numerically. The Texas win really keeps them afloat.

“There are a lot of teams (like USC) where they’re very close, but the next loss knocks them out, so they can’t really go any higher. USC and Washington State could get an at-large by winning a couple of game and even losing by one point to Arizona (in the title game). But I’m not betting the mortgage payment on it.”

The fact he can make a mortgage payment as a “bracketologist” who, in the last 11 seasons has missed only 12 teams in his final projections (including a perfect record in 2008) is, again, stunning.

(FYI: ESPN.com also has a women’s tournament bracketologist, Charlie Creme. His real name).

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