2021 NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks, Predictions: USC vs. Oregon (March 28)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Duarte.
- USC is favored over Oregon (9:45 p.m. ET, TBS) in the 2021 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, which wraps up Sunday night.
- The Pac-12 has strung together a terrific tournament so far, but the winner of this game will face the buzzsaw that is Gonzaga in the next round.
- Get our Oregon vs. USC pick and preview below.
USC vs. Oregon Odds
|Moneyline||-140 / +115|
|Time||Sunday, 9:45 p.m. ET|
The Pac-12 Conference has been the talk of the tournament, advancing four teams into the Sweet 16.
Every Pac-12 team that reached the NCAA Tournament won a game in the postseason. The overall performance of the conference has made some re-think the ceiling of the best Pac-12 teams.
The conference’s two best remaining teams will square off Sunday with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line. USC struts into this matchup with major momentum after routing Kansas in the second round. Not to be outdone, Oregon is flying high after scoring at will while knocking off 2-seed Iowa.
The Trojans won when these teams met in conference play, but the Ducks are playing their best basketball of the season.
USC’s Size vs. Oregon’s Versatility
The Trojans are a tough matchup for almost any team due to their size in the frontcourt.
Thanks to four starters taller than 6-foot-7, including brothers Evan and Isaiah Mobley towering at nearly 7-feet, USC comes in as the second-tallest team by average height, per KenPom.
That should be a challenge for Oregon, which features a starting lineup of five players all within an inch of 6-foot-6. It makes the Ducks a tough cover for many teams, with versatile players all over the floor.
That contrast will likely decide this game. USC will look to dominate the paint on both ends of the floor, whereas Oregon wants to spread the floor and make USC play in space.
Kansas was outmatched by USC’s size, shooting just 32% inside the 3-point arc against the Trojans in the second round. USC will look to recreate that performance by making the Ducks shoot over the length of the Mobley brothers.
Oregon will respond by drawing the USC bigs out to the perimeter to handle the pick-and-roll or to close out on shooters.
The Ducks’ shooting can change a game. Oregon leads the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage this season and showcased its ability to heat up while hitting 11-of-25 from long distance en route to scoring 95 points against Iowa.
On the other end of the floor, USC will try to pound the ball into the paint to test Oregon’s lack of size. Around the rim, the Trojans should have little problem finding quality looks.
Oregon’s answer will be perimeter pressure. Dana Altman’s teams always throw confusing pressure schemes at opposing guards. The Ducks turned opponents over at the highest rate in the Pac-12 this season. Altman will want his team to disrupt USC’s offensive flow with pressure before it can work the ball inside for high-percentage shots.
USC should control the glass on both ends. The Trojans’ length makes them a great rebounding team, especially on the offensive end, where USC ranks 12th in rebounding rate.
When these teams met in February, USC grabbed nearly as many of its own misses as the Ducks, nabbing 15 offensive rebounds compared to just 17 defensive rebounds for Oregon.
Star Power on Display
The second weekend of tournament play is typically when we see big-name players making big plays. Each of these teams has a star who could have a major impact on the outcome.
Oregon is led by senior Chris Duarte, who has developed into one of the best two-way wings in college basketball.
The former junior college transfer unlocks everything the Ducks look to do offensively and defensively. With the ball in his hands, he’s a dangerous shooter and can create for others. He has notched 15 or more points in five of Oregon’s last eight games. His height and length make him a tough cover for any opponent.
Freshman phenom Evan Mobley leads USC, having won Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-12.
Mobley has been criticized at times for being too passive within the Trojan offense. He took just six field goal attempts against Kansas, yet made his mark with 13 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks.
Mobley and Duarte each have the talent to take over this game.
Neither team really has a perfect answer for the opposing star, so it’s likely they’ll spend some time matched up against one another. Mobley’s size gives him an advantage, but Oregon needs Duarte to pull Mobley’s shot-blocking ability out of the paint.
Betting Analysis & Pick
If you look back at the first meeting between these teams, USC would seem undervalued here. The Trojans led that game wire-to-wire and stretched the lead to as large as 16 points in the second half.
In reality, Oregon played better than the score made that game appear. After trailing 19-5 10 minutes into the game, the Ducks played USC even the rest of the way.
This game will likely be decided by which team can create more extra possessions, either by USC’s offensive rebounds or Oregon’s forced turnovers. USC’s size makes its advantage more likely but far from a sure thing.
Even if Oregon gets bullied by the Trojans, it’s hard to bet against Oregon, which boasts the better coach and the best player in this game.
Instead, turn your attention to the total in this game. Two top-15 offenses in the nation — each with a chance to take advantage of the size discrepancy of the two rosters — should be able to put points on the board. Favor the over at the current number.
Pick: Over 138 (up to 140.5).