Let’s send our typing thoughts to Los Angeles for an interesting spot matchup. The second-ranked Arizona Wildcats will match wits and brawn with #16 USC in the Galen Center. Arizona can clinch the the PAC-12 regular season crown tonight. The Wildcats come in as a 4.5-point favorite and the total is 150.5.
I watched a lot of Arizona this season and I have not seen two more stark entries into thier ledger than what i saw against Utah and then the second half against Colorado. Against the Utes, they sprinted, jammed, got and hit open threes including a half-courter before the break. They were fluid and a smooth offense that toyed with Utah in the final twenty and still won by twenty. Against Colorado, it was a disastrous scene. The Wildcats shot 1-11 from beyond the arc and hit just 37% of their shots in the second stanza while getting run by Colorado on the other side of the court. Bad times.
The Wildcats had their nine-game winning streak snapped while USC is on a heater of their own, grabbing six-in-a-row. Their last loss was all the way back on February 5th, a 72-63 defeat at the hands of Arizona (dramatic music). The Trojans had a soft nonconference schedule and then added a PAC-12 slate that is downright impossible to understand. Seriously, trying to analyze PAC-12 hoops is akin to attempting to defuse a bomb using only your nipples. Remember Arizona v. Colorado just a moment ago? Half of USC’s losses have come to Stanford (8-10 in conference). USC may be warm right now but they’ve been tested by UCLA and Oregon but also Washington State and Oregon State (the worst team in the league). Credit to them for getting the wins, but trusting them outside the moneyline has been tough. The Trojans are 3-7 ATS in their last 10. However, they are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog.
Arizona’s offense under Tommy Llyod loves to run and shoot (no surprise) and they are elite at it. They score 84.4 per game which happens to be third in the NCAA. They are also blistering the nets at 48.9% per game (tenth nationally) and lead the country in rebounds per contest (40.1). It seems amazing but they can be vulnerable. All three of their losses have come on the road and two came against strong defenses (Tennessee, UCLA) and the third to a cold shooting evening (Colorado).
Tonight the Wildcats face a really strong defense. The Trojans are 6th in the country in opponents’ field goal percentage and allow their foes to score just 64.4 per game. USC played a masterful first half against the Wildcats a few weeks ago but Arizona made adjustments, got into space and made their shots (47.3%) while USC was icy on the court, shooting 34.3% from the field and going 7/30 from deep. All that being said, it was a 3-point game in the final forty seconds.
I think we have another back-and-forth type game tonight. I believe USC, at home, has to hold the fort on defense and utilize their big man Isaiah Mobley who has looked good recently. He suffered a broken nose at Arizona, missed a couple of games but has put up 36 points in the past two games combined as well as 19 rebounds. USC can rebound with Arizona (19 offensive vs Arizona last time). If they can control the pace, get some easy buckets and control some of these loose balls, they can win tonight.
I still like Arizona to win the game (Arizona is 14-6 straight up in their last twenty games on the road) but I am nowhere near in love with -4.5 spread (Arizona 1-6 ATS in last 7 against USC). USC won’t impress many people until maybe now and tonight. I have been one of the many that discount the Trojans ability to go deep into March but they have proven that their defense and size can make a matchup nightmare for a lot of teams. As far as tonight is concerned, I am going to take the under 150.5.