USC vs UCLA Odds, Picks: How to Bet This L.A. Pac-12 Rivalry Game
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images. Pictured: Boogie Ellis (USC)
USC vs UCLA Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
USC saw its seven-game win streak snapped when it lost 81-71 to Washington State on Sunday. However, the Trojans are 11-4 and 3-1 in the Pac-12, good for third place in the conference.
They will look to get back on track against rival UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA also had a tough matchup at Washington State last Friday, but pulled out a 67-66 win. It had less trouble at Washington on Sunday, cruising to a 74-49 victory.
The Bruins are 13-2 and have won 10 games in a row. They're tied for first in the Pac-12 at 4-0 and are No. 10 in the AP Poll.
For an early January matchup, the stakes are pretty high for this one.
USC dropped eight spots to 85th in the NCAA NET Rankings following the loss to Washington State. The Trojans don't have a Quad 1 victory yet.
As one of the two Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 10, UCLA would certainly qualify for the Big Dance. Knocking off a rival in the process would be an added bonus.
A USC win would also give it the same conference record as UCLA.
Last year, UCLA won two of the three matchups in this series, winning the regular season finale at home and again the following week in the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Bruins will be looking to win their third straight over the Trojans, but USC has had control of this rivalry of late. The Trojans have won six of the last 10 meetings.
UCLA is a double-digit favorite this time around, though.
The Trojans are led by the senior guard tandem of Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson.
Ellis leads the team with 16.1 points per game, which he has upped to 21.5 over his last four games. Peterson averages 14 points and leads the team with 6.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.
Ellis and Peterson generate much of the offense for a team that ranks 70th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. The Trojans don't shoot the 3-ball well, hitting just 32.3% from 3 as a team. Ellis leads the Trojans with 32 3-pointers on 37.5% shooting.
USC also averages 14.1 turnovers per game and ranks 264th in turnover percentage. However, it makes life difficult for its opponents, as well.
USC ranks fourth in 2-point percentage defense and 21st in field goal percentage defense overall. USC has held nine of 15 opponents under 40% from the field this season.
Center Joshua Morgan is a big reason why the Trojans have been so tough to score on inside.
USC has blocked 85 shots this season (sixth nationally) and Morgan has blocked nearly half of them. He averages 2.8 blocks per game, which ranks first in the Pac-12 and is tied for fifth nationally. The Trojans are 13th in block percentage as a team.
USC turned in an uncharacteristic defensive performance against Washington State. It allowed a season-high 81 points and a season-worst 49% from the field. The Cougars also made 14 3s and outscored USC by 33 points from beyond the arc.
Getting only 12 points from Ellis — before he fouled out — did not help matters, either. The Trojans will need a bounce back performance from Ellis on Thursday night.
UCLA is a veteran-laden team that plays through its backcourt.
Senior Jaime Jaquez Jr. leads the way with 17.2 points per game and 6.3 rebounds on 53.5% shooting from the field. That's right on par with his averages (17 points, five rebounds) in the three meetings against USC last season.
Junior Jaylen Clark is averaging 14.1 points and 6.9 rebounds while senior Tyger Campbell is averaging 13.6 points, 4.6 assists and 1.8 turnovers.
Standout freshmen Amari Bailey (9.5) and Adem Bona (8.0) are both averaging at least eight points per game, as well.
Bona is the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after he averaged 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in the Bruins' road wins over Washington and Washington State.
Bailey missed both of those games, and is out once again with a foot injury. Getting him back will be key as the Bruins are already playing a short rotation to begin with.
UCLA has only gotten 10 points from its bench in its last two games.
UCLA is seventh in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, and it's excellent protecting the ball, ranking fourth in turnover percentage.
The Bruins are also seventh in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and rank 13th in turnover percentage defensively. They're also holding opponents to 30% from behind the arc.
USC vs. UCLA Betting Pick
UCLA is on a 16-game home winning streak and is 46-6 at home since Mick Cronin arrived in Westwood.
However, two of those losses came against USC. Additionally, UCLA has beaten USC by double digits just twice in the last 17 meetings.
Getting 12.5 points, I have to back the Trojans.
I believe this line is an overreaction to USC's loss to Washington State. USC didn't get a great performance from Ellis, and it's also difficult to overcome such a large disparity in 3s.
UCLA can also make Ellis' life difficult, but given his recent form, I expect him to bounce back.
USC can make it tough on UCLA to score, as well. UCLA shoots 53% inside the arc and get 63% of its points off 2s. USC's interior defense — led by Morgan — could make it tough for UCLA score inside.
UCLA is a good 3-point shooting team, but you have to assume that USC will not give up 14 3s.
Meanwhile, USC is not a great 3-point shooting team, but it's capable of striking back. USC has four games this season with at least nine triples.
If No. 5 comes against UCLA, it will go a long way towards helping the Trojans cover and possibly pull off another upset over its rival.
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