UCLA vs. USC College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Bet for Saturday’s Pac-12 Clash (Saturday, February 12)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: UCLA Bruins guard Tyger Campbell (10).
- UCLA and USC go head-to-head in the battle for Los Angeles.
- The Trojans have fell back to earth as of late while the Bruins are starting to gain steam.
- Keg breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.
UCLA vs. USC Odds
-105o / -115u
-105o / -115u
Mick Cronin and his UCLA Bruins will end their four-game road trip just 13 miles from home as they take on a cross-town conference rival in the USC Trojans Saturday night.
The Bruins have squared off against USC four times since Cronin took over, but not once have they come away with the win. In two of the games, however, it has come down to the last shot. The Bruins lost, 64-63, last year.
Both teams rank inside the top five of the Pac-12, with UCLA sitting at second in the conference and USC at fourth. They are both having impressive seasons and both enter this game coming off wins.
The Bruins most recently got back on track against Stanford after dropping two games in a row, one to each of the Arizona residents of the Pac-12.
USC, meanwhile, had a game that felt a little too close for comfort against Pacific after it lost to Arizona by just nine. That was due in large part to being without leading scorer Isaiah Mobley, who is probable for Saturday’s game.
Also, the big redhead himself, Bill Walton, will be on the call for his alma mater, which is really just the cherry on top for one of the biggest games of the year in the Conference of Champions.
The Bruins are 17th in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom. As a team, they are putting up 77.8 points per game behind the efforts of leading scorer Johnny Juzang.
Juzang is averaging 18.1 points per game so far this season, good enough to earn him a second-place spot on the conference’s leading scorer list.
The Bruins turn the ball over less frequently than almost anyone else, ranking fourth in offensive turnover percentage. They are also seventh when it comes to steal percentage. But neither area should be an issue against USC, which ranks outside the top 300 in both defensively.
What will be a challenge for the Bruins, though, is scoring inside. UCLA gets 55.8% of its points off of 2-point shots, but USC is one of the best in the country on the defensive end at defending 2s. The Trojans limit opponents to just 41.5% on 2-point shots to rank fourth nationally.
But the Bruins can cause some difficulty of their own on the defensive end. UCLA leads the Pac-12 in assist-to-turnover ratio and sits second in steals per game with nine per contest.
The Bruins are also limiting teams to just 65.9 points per game, which puts them fourth in the conference when it comes to scoring defense. Still, they are all the way down at sixth when it comes to FG% defense and are even worse at defending 3s.
USC doesn’t give up many turnovers, but like UCLA, it relies heavily on inside shooting. Whoever wins the battle in the paint likely wins the game.
I cannot emphasize this enough: The handicap for this game almost entirely comes down to whether or not Mobley plays. Yes, he is probable, but the Trojans are a completely different team without him.
And if you need an example, just compare their last two opponents. With Mobley, they gave Arizona all it could handle. Without him, they nearly lost to Pacific.
Mobley averages 14.7 points per game and 8.5 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. He is also second on the team in assists and blocks.
His presence around the basket is irreplaceable. If Mobley can’t go, Cronin might finally secure that ever-elusive win over the Trojans.
UCLA vs. USC Betting Pick
UCLA is an experienced team that has won some tough battles on the road. I also expect it to play even more motivated after dropping games to both Arizona schools.
If Mobley plays, he presents a challenge. But he also hasn’t practiced all week and still has a broken nose. If he’s out, this line will skyrocket.
I’m backing the Bruins here and would take them up to -4.