College Basketball Odds & Pick for Arizona vs. USC: Are Oddsmakers Underrating the Trojans?
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: USC Trojans forward Onyeka Okongwu (21).
- Saturday evening sees a Pac-12 matchup between the Arizona Wildcats and the USC Trojans.
- The Wildcats won't have much to play for with a trip to Washington on deck after this game, so there's a chance we see a high-energy performance from the Wildcats — but Hasani Grayson doesn't think so.
- Check out his full betting analysis complete with updated odds and a pick below.
Arizona vs. USC Odds
No. 17 USC has been strong in the win column (18-3 overall, 12-2 in Pac-12) and against the spread (6-0 ATS in six games since Jan. 28, per Action Labs). Yet, despite the Trojans’ recent performance, oddsmakers are still being fairly generous by making USC a 7-point home favorite vs. Arizona (14-8, 8-8) on Saturday.
The Last Time These Teams Played on Jan. 7
Seeing USC -7 made me feel like Christmas came early — and I’m not just saying that because I still have my wilted Christmas tree tucked away in the corner of my room.
The Trojans used a dominant second-half performance to cruise to a 87-73 road victory over the Wildcats on Jan. 7. USC was actually a 4-point dog in that matchup and covered easily thanks in large part to Isaiah White’s impressive shooting performance. White went 3-for-5 on his 3-point attempts and put up a team-leading 22 points. That, combined with a solid night from freshman forward Evan Mobley — who put up a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds — was more than enough for the comfortable cover and easy road win.
The Wildcats weren’t without a bright spot in that loss, however. Azoulas Tubelis, whose name sounds like something Harry Potter would shout before he shoots electricity out of his wand, outperformed his season scoring averages by posting 31 points against the Trojans. Yet, despite how well Tubelis played offensively that evening, it wasn’t enough to make up for the offensive struggles of James Akinjo, who was held scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting.
That game was an aberration for Akinjo, who has otherwise been one of Arizona’s best scoring options with a team-leading 14.6 points per game average. I wouldn’t bet on him having another game where he’s denied entry to the scoring column.
However, one Wildcat who will definitely be held scoreless in this game is Jermarl Baker Jr. who is out for the remainder of the season with a broken wrist. Baker Jr. was averaging 12 points per game but hasn’t been on the floor since the Wildcats lost 81-76 to UCLA on Jan. 9. Though Baker Jr. wasn’t much of a factor in the first game against USC — scoring just 3 points on 1-of-7 shooting — it’s reasonable to expect he would have put up better numbers than that in today’s rematch if he was available.
Moreover, it’s not just the encouraging numbers from last month’s game that have me taking the Trojans and the points. USC leads the Pac-12 with a record of 9-2 and, more importantly, has covered the spread in each of its last six contests. The Trojans have achieved double-digit victories in each of their last four games, covering by an average margin of 6.9 points during that span.
Arizona, on the other hand, is 1-3 ATS in its last four games — including outright losses to Oregon and Utah where the Wildcats were slight favorites.
Betting Market Analysis
All things considered, I’m a little surprised that the Trojans opener was as soft as -7.5. Before odds posted on Friday afternoon, I had anticipated USC to be giving 10 points or so. If the number had been as big as I was expecting, I would have been willing to take the Wildcats to cover. Arizona is the definition of a middle-of-the-road team, sitting at sixth place in the Pac-12. The ‘Cats should win most games against the bottom-half of the conference and avoid blowouts most of the time against nationally ranked opponents like USC.
Arizona won’t get embarrassed on Saturday evening, but the injury to Baker Jr., combined with the team’s lackluster performance when it faced the Trojans at home, bodes well for the Trojans to cover. Look for brothers Evan and Isaiah Mobley to make their presence felt inside in this one.
(I know the Twin Towers nickname is overused and they’re not actually twins; but since the siblings rank first and second, respectively, in rebounding for USC, the pair deserve some kind of moniker. Calling them the “Similar Skyscrapers” just doesn’t hit the same though).
Hopefully their inside presence can keep Tubelis from another big scoring night while Akinjo performs closer to his season averages.
How to Play It
I’m taking the Trojans -7.
I feel confident enough about that pick to wager my money and my sad-looking fire hazard of a Christmas tree to which I’ve apparently developed an emotional attachment. I doubt that sportsbooks are taking Douglas Firs as collateral in place of legal US tender, but you get my point.
Pick: USC -7 or better