Four of the “Power Six" college basketball conferences have been better than the Pac-12 this year. Even though the Pac-12 plays in a later time zone, and they are not as good as the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, and Big East Conferences, they still deserve some respect this year.
Arizona will be a tournament contender this March, and UCLA and USC could bust a lot of brackets. Both Los Angeles teams face off against each other in a Saturday night showdown between two AP Top 25 teams.
Will it be as exciting as the Super Bowl? Probably not, but it should be a great game.
The Bruins are expected to be favored on our CBB gameday odds. But can they take down a tough Trojan team on the “road?"
Please note that all college basketball odds and lines are not listed as of 12 p.m. ET on Friday, February 11.
UCLA vs. USC Predictions
Both UCLA and USC are nationally ranked in the AP Top 25. Even though USC is ranked as the 21st-best team, according to KenPom, they are ranked as only the 34th-best team in the country.
There are a few reasons why USC is not nearly as good as they look on paper. The Trojans have only the 44th-best adjusted offensive efficiency and the 47th-best adjusted efficiency in the country.
Even though Southern Cal has not been exceptional this season, they have done one thing well. USC has limited opposing defenses to an effective field goal percentage of only 43.8 percent, which is the 10th-best in the country.
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Looking at USC’s schedule, they have yet to beat a team outside of San Diego State that is expected to make the NCAA Tournament this March. The only top 25 team they have played is Arizona, where they lost 72-63 last weekend.
The Trojans are great at beating weaker teams, but the question is if they can beat a team as good as UCLA?
Everybody and their grandmother know UCLA’s story. They made it as an 11-seed to the Final Four last year, where they lost to tournament favorite Gonzaga by only three points in overtime. This season, they have returned most of their core from last year’s team, but they have underperformed, in my opinion.
The Bruins had an embarrassing triple-overtime loss to Arizona State last weekend and have lost to Oregon. However, to UCLA’s credit, they have beaten Villanova, Marquette, and split the season series with Arizona.
USC is a tough team, but UCLA should easily win.
UCLA vs. USC Prediction: UCLA 75, USC 66
UCLA vs. USC Best Bets
Best Bet: UCLA if -3 or better
Wager: 1 Unit
As of the writing of this article, odds have not been set for Saturday’s game, but I suspect that UCLA will be a slight favorite.
KenPom has UCLA winning 69-67, but I beg to differ. I believe that the Bruins will win by at least four points.
This season, UCLA has won 17 games, and none have been by within a single possession. The Bruins have an averaging scoring margin of +11.9, which is 15th-best in the country and second-best in the Pac-12.
USC is a tough team, but they will be outmatched by UCLA this weekend.