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WNIT Championship 2011: Toledo Hosts USC At 3 p.m. On Saturday

Before haters - like Swish Appeal's own Holly - relegate the Pac-10 to mid-major status, I would like to suggest that potentially owning the WNIT (in addition to making a Final Four appearance for the past four years) counts for something.

And yes, we're gonna call two in a row dominant: since Wayland Baptist won the first nine titles, only the Big East (Marquette, 2008: South Florida, 2009) and Big Ten (Wisconsin, 2000; Ohio State, 2001) have claimed consecutive WNIT titles.

As described by Matt Sussman of SBN's Hustle Belt, the USC Trojans have the opportunity to do just that against the Toledo Rockets for a conference that has widely been considered sub-par over the last few years.

Lady Rockets Host WNIT Championship, While USC Brings The Final Exam - Hustle Belt
With the total understanding that it's "just the WNIT," 64 teams participated in the tournament and these are two that are left. This counts for something. This is not the NCAA women's basketball championship, something that they did not get invited to, and maybe had they too expanded to 68 teams they'd have gotten a crack at it, much like VCU did.

After Cal won the WNIT last year, USC can make it a back-to-back for the Pac-10 with a win in Toledo on Saturday at 3 p.m.

May the Force be with the Pac-10.

In seriousness though, the big question - especially for a USC team talented enough to be in the NCAA tournament - is whether participating in the tournament actually helps teams improve. As James Bowman has examined previously, the results on that are inconclusive and Cal is unfortunately a prime example of a team that went backwards due to graduating a key player.

For more on Toledo, click here. For more on USC, check out a mid-season look before things went downhill and they were resigned to accepting a WNIT bid after turning it down last year.