There is still plenty left to be decided on the final day of the Pac-12 Conference regular-season. Today we have a crosstown rivalry game between the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins. While both schools are soundly among the ranks of teams who will receive an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament, a win tonight could help pave the way to a better seeding. Speaking of seeding, the winner will claim the 2-seed in next week’s Pac-12 Tournament. Oh, and Bill Walton will be on the call tonight to boot! The following article takes a look at the top college basketball betting picks and betting trends, then shares a USC vs UCLA prediction for tonight’s critical Pac-12 rivalry game.
USC vs UCLA College Basketball Betting Preview
Men’s College Basketball Regular Season Game
USC Trojans (25-5, 14-5 Pac-12) vs. UCLA Bruins (22-6, 14-5 Pac-12)
Date: Saturday, March 5, 2022
Time: 10 p.m. EST
Venue: Pauley Pavilion — Los Angeles, CA
USC Trojans Preview
Coming into Pac-12 Conference play, USC basketball was actually unbeaten on the season. However, the Trojans received very little respect from the majority of college basketball betting analysts thanks to a mediocre non-conference strength of schedule. Well, Andy Enfield’s team proved that it was for real against Pac-12 competition. Despite losing Evan Mobely to the NBA from last year’s Elite 8 team, USC once again has all the pieces to put together a deep run in March.
One of the key players to the Trojans’ success is the younger Mobley brother, Isaiah. The forward leads the team in both scoring (14.4) and rebounding (8.5) on a per-game basis. What made USC’s win at home over UCLA last month all the more impressive was that Mobley missed that game with an illness. While fellow big man Chevez Goodwin came up huge in his place, it was guard Drew Peterson who stole the show. Of course, any guard who stands 6′ 9″ is bound to create some matchup problems. Not only does Peterson have the size and strength to battle inside and on the boards, but he also is shooting at a 41% clip from beyond the arc this season. He went off for 27 points and 12 rebounds in the first meeting against UCLA.
When it comes to an Achilles’ Heel for the Trojans, it is quite clearly their inconsistent play defensively. KenPom ranks USC 60th in adjusted defensive efficiency. While some efforts have been quite impressive (see holding UCLA to 64 and Oregon to 69 points recently), others have been inexplicably terrible. Just two weeks ago, USC let an awful Oregon State team score 91 points and barely escaped Corvalis with a win. Arizona also hung 91 on the Trojans in an embarrassing 20-point loss at the Galen Center earlier this week.
UCLA Bruins Preview
Much like their in-city rivals, UCLA basketball once again has the pieces in place for another deep NCAA Tournament run. After nearly reaching the national title game last season, the Bruins welcomed almost everyone back for another go-around. Aside from games played in The Grand Canyon State and against Oregon, Mick Cronin’s squad has only lost one other Pac-12 matchup this season. That was none other than the first meeting against USC basketball. Poor shooting proved to be a key factor in that February defeat.
This season, UCLA has four players averaging in double figures scoring. After turning down the NBA Draft to return to school for another season, Johnny Juzang leads that group with 17.0 points per game. Well, in the first college basketball betting matchup against the Trojans, Juzang struggled his way to a dozen points. Aside from point guard Tyger Campbell who had 27, Juzang was the only Bruin to score in double figures on that night. Jaime Jacquez and Jules Bernard, each of whom has averaged north of 12 points per game on the season, combined for just seven at the Galen Center.
Those making USC vs UCLA college basketball betting picks can safely assume that the Bruins will have a much better offensive showing tonight. When one combines this expected positive regression with UCLA’s underrated defense, revenge could be in order. According to KenPom, UCLA basketball ranks 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency this season allowing only 91.0 points per 100 possessions. One would have to go all the way back to an overtime loss at Arizona State on February 5th to find the last time a team scored more than 70 against the Bruins. Such a feat has only happened three times all year in Pac-12 Conference play.
USC vs UCLA College Basketball Betting Odds and Picks
Moneyline: USC: (+275) | UCLA: (-335)
Point Spread: USC: +7.5 (-110) | UCLA: -7.5 (-110)
Total: 135 — Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)
USC vs UCLA College Basketball Betting Trends
- Trojans are just 1-4 ATS but 4-1 straight up in their last five games.
- Bruins are 5-1 both straight up and ATS in their last six games.
- Bruins are 6-0 ATS in their last six home games.
- Trojans are 5-0 straight up in their last five head-to-head matchups against the Bruins.
- Each of the last five Trojans vs Bruins college basketball betting matchups has gone UNDER the total.
USC vs UCLA Prediction | College Basketball Betting Picks
Needless to say, this game is a big one. The winner receives the 2-seed in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament. The winner also will likely boost their seeding outlook as far as March Madness is concerned. This is a college basketball betting rivalry showdown not to miss.
In reality, both USC and UCLA basketball stand to gain a positive boost tonight relative to the first head-to-head contest between them. For the Trojans, this simply comes in the fact that Isaiah Mobley will be on the court after he wasn’t in the first go-around. Meanwhile, the Bruins are virtually guaranteed to shoot better than their collective mark from the field of 29.7% in the first meeting.
The fact that UCLA shot that poorly and still only lost by three on the road tells the story, as does the wide gap in the overall KenPom efficiency rankings between them (No. 8 for UCLA compared to No. 41 for USC). The Trojans have won each of the last five matchups in this rivalry. Look for UCLA to put an emphatic end to that streak on their home floor tonight.
USC vs UCLA Prediction: UCLA -7.5 (-110 at BetUS Sportsbook)