The Arizona Wildcats are 25-3 on the season but were ultimately upset by Colorado on Saturday on the road. Now, Arizona will look to get back to its winning ways against a much tougher opponent in the USC Trojans.
Arizona already defeated USC on February 5, winning 72-63 at home. But on the road, against a top 25 opponent, Arizona will absolutely have its work cut out for them.
USC is on a six-game winning streak, and in that six-game win streak was a win against UCLA on the Trojans’ home floor. So could Arizona end up losing two straight games in Pac-12 play?
Here are our picks and predictions for tonight’s Pac-12 matchup between the Arizona Wildcats and the USC Trojans.
Please note that all college basketball odds and lines are current as of 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 1.
Arizona vs. USC Predictions
Let’s not get it twisted. Arizona is still one of the best teams in the nation this year. Even after losing to Colorado, the Wildcats remained the No. 2 team in the country via the AP Poll.
The Wildcats, according to KenPom, have a top 20 offense and defense in regards to efficiency. That will go a long way when the NCAA Tournament rolls around.
But this isn’t the NCAA Tournament. This is a true road game against USC, and it will not be easy.
USC has shot 35.6 percent from deep and 50.2 percent from inside the arc this season. The Trojans are only hitting 66.3 percent of shots from the foul line, but the reality is that Arizona rarely fouls teams to the charity stripe.
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We likely won’t see the Trojans at the line consistently in this game. However, USC will earn many second chances, as the Trojans have brought down 34 percent of offensive rebounds this season.
On the defensive end, the Trojans have held opponents to 33.2 percent from long-distance and 40.8 percent from inside the arc. The Trojans have been the best defense inside the arc throughout the entire season and ranked first in defensive two-point percentage with that 40.8 percent number.
On the other hand, Arizona has shot 34.4 percent from deep and 57.1 percent from inside. That’s why this matchup inside the arc when Arizona has the ball will be so interesting to watch. The Wildcats are one of the best offenses inside, going up against the best defense inside with USC.
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No matter how that goes, though, Arizona is earning 35.5 percent offensive rebounds and should be able to get a whole lot of second chances against USC. The Wildcats will also limit turnovers, knowing USC only earns 15.4 percent turnovers per game this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, Arizona is holding opponents to 31.6 percent from deep and 41.1 percent from inside. Like USC, Arizona is dominant inside and holding teams to the second-lowest number in college basketball, behind, well, USC.
In the first meeting between these two teams, USC only shot 42.5 percent from inside and nailed just 23.3 percent of three-point shots. Meanwhile, Arizona had more success, scoring nearly 49 percent from inside while also hitting 4-of-10 from deep.
For USC, only Isaiah Mobley was in double figures in that game, scoring 15 points in 37 minutes. However, Arizona had multiple guys in double figures and shot the ball better while also getting to the line more. Both teams combined for 33 offensive rebounds, so you can figure there will be many second chances in this game.
Arizona vs. USC Prediction: Arizona 81, USC 72
Arizona vs. USC Best Bet
Best Bet: Over 150.5 (-110) at BetMGM
Wager: 1 Unit
Both teams have been elite at stopping opponents around the rim on the defensive end. But in the last game, there were so many opportunities to score points thanks to 33 offensive rebounds between the two teams. On those offensive rebounds, there will be fouls called and more shot attempts.
So therefore, we’ll get more foul shot attempts and attempts from the field to help get this game over the total. Neither team will likely earn a whole bunch of turnovers, either. USC is only averaging 15.4 percent, while Arizona is still below average, earning just 17.8 percent turnovers.
Arizona leads the nation in assists to field goals made on the offensive end, with 65.8 percent of buckets finishing with an assist. I’ll take the over here in a tight game that will likely drag out in the final minutes.