USC vs. Cal College Basketball Odds, Picks: This Duel Won’t Be Pretty
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Peterson (USC)
- USC and Cal tip-off Pac-12 play in Berkeley on Wednesday evening.
- The Trojans have an ugly loss to FGCU so far this season while the Golden Bears have yet to win a game.
- Can the Golden Bears pull off the shocker? Keg breaks it down.
USC vs. Cal Odds
-120o / -102u
-120o / -102u
Cal is 0-7 to start the year, its worst start ever in program history. The Golden Bears are actually the first team in a Power Five conference to start their season with seven consecutive losses in over 40 years.
USC, meanwhile, has started the season 4-3 and seems to be somewhat on track after an embarrassing 74-61 loss to Florida Gulf Coast.
The Trojans' other two losses both came in their last two games in the Battle 4 Atlantis. However, both were impressive efforts, taking the now 13th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers to overtime and losing to an impressive Wisconsin team by just five.
Can the Golden Bears shock the world and pull off the upset against the Trojans to mark their first win of the season?
They haven't had much success against USC in recent history — Cal has lost eight straight to the Trojans, with its last win coming in January of 2018. It's been even longer since the Golden Bears beat the Trojans in Berkeley, with their last victory coming in January of 2017.
The Trojans' offense has been solid so far to start the year, With a dynamic scorer like Boogie Ellis, it's hard to imagine them not being at least decent.
Ellis is averaging 18 points per game so far this season, a majority of which have come from beyond the arc. He's one of the best 3-point shooters in the nation, hitting 47.5% from beyond the arc.
Feeding him the rock and creating open shots for Ellis is Drew Peterson, who leads the Trojans and the entire conference with 46 assists on the season.
And while the two of them are a Batman and Robin-level duo, there's no Justice League here. Ellis and Peterson are the only two Trojans averaging in double digits. USC, as a team, ranks 272nd nationally in bench minutes, relying heavily on the two for a majority of its offensive output.
However, what the entire team does do well is defend. The Trojans have held all but two of their opponents so far this season to 37.5% or less from the floor. Ellis once again shines as the leader of the team on the defensive end, as he's racked up 10 steals on the season.
One area of their defense might not be as strong against the Golden Bears, though.
USC ranks 27th in the nation when it comes to 2-point defense and is 13th in block percentage on defense. This, to some extent, has to be due to the Trojans' roster ranking fifth nationally when it comes to average height.
That advantage will be all but nullified against a Golden Bears team that is right behind them at seventh in average height.
Cal doesn't do much well, ranking 296th in effective field goal percentage, 249th in defensive 3-point percentage and 354th in turnover percentage.
But it's not all the Golden Bears' fault. Two of their most promising players coming into the season — Jalen Celestine and DeJuan Clayton — have yet to log a single minute this year due to injuries.
However, the team has shown some significant improvements, specifically during its games in the Emerald Coast Classic.
Lars Thiemann was selected to the all-tournament team after averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting better than 60% in their two games.
The Golden Bears — despite their record — also have one of the most elite scorers in the Pac-12 in Devin Askew. He's one of only two players in the conference who are averaging better than 16 points, three assists and three rebounds per game.
Askew leads the team in minutes and has led every Golden Bears game in scoring this season.
Cal ranks as one of the five slowest teams in the country in terms of tempo, and it's been able to hold opponents to 65.9 points per game. The Golden Bears need to try and slow this game down as much as they can if they want to keep it close against the Trojans.
They'll also need to focus on drawing fouls. Cal is the best team in the Pac-12 and ranked 35th in the nation when it comes to free throw percentage, hitting 76.7% of its attempts from the line.
USC ranks 190th nationally, averaging 17.6 fouls per game.
USC vs. Cal Betting Pick
USC held its own against two elite teams in Wisconsin and Tennessee. I get that. But the Trojans also struggled against Vermont and lost outright to Florida Gulf Coast.
Not to mention, hungry dogs run faster — always have, always will.
This USC team has had trouble with fouling and has struggled at the line. Those are two areas in which Cal can and will take advantage. It'll also look to slow down the game as much as possible, which will only help its case.
It's not going to be pretty, but I think the Golden Bears can keep it within the number against USC.
Hold your nose and take Cal at +7 or better.
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