Odds & Pick for Oregon vs. USC College Basketball: Back Underdog Ducks Against Trojans
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: The Oregon Ducks huddle.
- The Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans meet on Monday night in a battle of two of the Pac-12's top teams.
- The game will go a long way toward determining who wins the conference this season.
- Mike Randle breaks down the matchup and makes his pick below.
Oregon vs. USC Odds
Two of the best teams in the Pac-12 will battle on Monday night when Oregon and USC face off in Los Angeles.
Despite having played four fewer games overall (three in conference), the Ducks find themselves even in the loss column with the Trojans. Both rosters have dealt with injuries, but should be relatively healthy for this huge late-season battle.
USC is coming off an 81-72 home loss to Arizona, while Oregon is on a four-game winning streak. Which team should bettors back in this late-night West Coast battle for supremacy?
Oregon is finally fully healthy after the return of forward Eric Williams on Saturday. The 6-foot-6 junior had seven points and five rebounds in just 24 minutes in the Ducks’ 67-64 win over Utah. Head coach Dana Altman will be able to field his full starting lineup for the first time all season.
Junior point guard Will Richardson, returned from thumb surgery on February 4. In the six games since his return, Richardson has averaged 11.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 3.3 APG. He gives Oregon a reliable leader who makes more than 80% of his free throws for the stretch run.
Richardson’s return has placed top scorers Eugene Omoruyi (17.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG) and Chris Duarte (17.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG) back into their regular roles. Duarte has averaged 16.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG over the past two contests.
The Ducks are careful with the basketball and play tough defense, ranking third in offensive turnovers and first in defensive turnovers in Pac-12 competition. They should be very comfortable against a USC defense that simply does not force turnovers. The Trojans are dead-last in defensive turnover percentage in Pac-12 competition, per KenPom.
Oregon has also found its stroke from deep, shooting 36.4% (40-of-98) from 3-point range against conference opponents.
USC has been a solid metric team on both ends of the floor, but surprisingly struggled in the home loss to Arizona. The Trojans were outrebounded by the Wildcats, and allowed Arizona to shoot 47% (8-of-17) from 3P. They will face similar issues against the hot shooting Ducks.
The Trojans are led by the dominant interior play of 7-foot freshman Evan Mobley. The future NBA draft lottery pick is averaging 17.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 3.2 BPG. Along with his 6-foot-10 brother Isaiah Mobley (9.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG), they provide a distinct interior advantage on both ends of the floor.
However, look for Oregon’s up-tempo style to limit the effectiveness of the Mobleys, much like Arizona did. Along with guard Tahj Eaddy (13.8 PPG), the Trojans battled through foul trouble with the three main players against the Wildcats. While Oregon will be undersized inside, Williams, along with Omoruyi, should present enough resistance to limit the Trojans’ advantage.
Oregon has also suffered from bad luck, with opponents shooting a brutal 78% from free-throw line (344th in the country). USC is the worst free-throw shooting team in the Pac-12, averaging 66.9% in conference games.
In a late-season conference game of this magnitude, experience matters. Oregon is 38th overall with an average of 2.3 years of experience per player, while USC is just 194th.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Both teams are playing their sixth game in the past 16 days, a challenge for any roster. However, Oregon has the advantage with a fresh Williams and Richardson’s recent return. The speed of the Oregon offense will almost mimic the Arizona game, and the sharp shooting from beyond the arc will keep this game close.
I’m backing the Ducks and taking the four points on the road at USC. While the Ducks are undersized, they have excelled in close games, winning their last three games by a combined nine points. Look for Altman to lean on his team’s experience, and earn a hard-fought cover in this road matchup.
Pick: Oregon +4, Play down to Oregon +3.5