Three of VSiN’s top college hoops handicappers have their say on Sunday night’s matchup between Oregon and USC.
No conference has been more of a surprise nationally than the Pac-12, as “The Conference of Champions” has four of its five teams in the Sweet 16. It will be guaranteed to have at least one team in the Elite Eight, as West Region No. 6 seed USC meets up with No. 7 seed Oregon. The two clubs met once during the regular season as USC, without the services of 6-foot-10 sophomore Isaiah Mobley, stormed out to a 15-0 lead and cruised to a 72-58 victory on Feb. 22.
Both squads enter the Sweet 16 off games in which they fired on all cylinders. Oregon ousted No. 2 seed Iowa, 95-80. The Ducks scored 1.27 points per possession, shot 27-for-43 (62.8 percent) from inside the arc and 11-for-25 (44 percent) from 3 against Iowa’s permissible defense in an up-tempo game.
It should be tougher sledding for Oregon against the Trojans, who rank No. 5 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. USC stomped No. 3 Kansas, 85-51, and held the Jayhawks to an anemic 0.75 points per possession and just 29 percent from the floor. Five “Men of Troy” also scored in double figures, including the Mobley brothers (Isaiah 17, Evan 10).
USC is a two-point favorite with a total of 137.5. The point spreads are as tight as they can be at this point in the season, and this number seem fair. The better betting looks for this game is on the total.
USC led the Pac-12 in adjusted defensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, free-throw rate, two-point defense and blocked-shot rate. Though Oregon was middle of the pack defensively, the Ducks did lead the conference for forcing turnovers and steal percentage. Furthermore, with a likely date with No. 1-overall seed Gonzaga on the line, possessions could get extended, and the game could slow to a crawl toward the end. The regression monster from the 3-point line looms for both teams.
Reynolds picks: Under 137.5 and first-half Under 64.
The Ducks are 12-2 since Feb. 2, with one of the losses the Feb. 22 game vs. USC. This will be a different game, and I’ll side with coaching wizard Dana Altman in the rematch. Altman is a master at making adjustments. Senior guards Chris Duarte and LJ Figueroa combined to light up a weak Iowa defense from 3-point range in the second round. The Ducks’ zone defense will cause problems for the Trojans. The team that advances will cause problems for Gonzaga.
Youmans pick: Oregon +2.
Oregon has a very balanced attack with five different players averaging more than 10 ppg and all five of those players shooting at least 35.7 percent from 3-point range. Plus, four of the five are pulling in more than 4.5 rebounds per game. The Trojans do not take the ball away from opponents, ranking 342nd in the country in percentage of possessions on defense in which they generate a steal when in a road or neutral-court environment. USC averages the 14th-most free throw attempts per possession when away from home but ranks 328th in the country in free-throw shooting percentage (64.3 percent).
Peterson’s pick: Oregon moneyline (+115).