The UCLA vs USC game is happening Saturday evening. It’s a crosstown battle between No. 16 (USC) and No. 17 (UCLA), the finale of the regular season for both programs. Though the Trojans have been thought of as a paper tiger for much of the season, they whipped the Bruins, 67-64, this past Feb. 12th.
USC was a top-10 team at one point this season after beginning 13-0 against a patsy schedule. The Trojans’ out-of-conference strength of schedule was a paltry 217th in the nation, with only one of their victories coming against a top-50 Pomeroy team. As soon as they began Pac-12 play, they were thumped at home by a mediocre Stanford team that exploited them once again.
USC was able to defeat the Bruins without their best player in the prior matchup. Despite Isaiah Mobley’s absence, USC pulled off the feat with hot shooting from deep and the stripe. That and UCLA’s Johnny Juzang struggled mightily (4-for-16) from the field.
The spread is going to strongly favor UCLA at home. The Bruins were favored by four points on the road in the first matchup, but had a bear of a time connecting on their shots from deep.
The Bruins are the fourth-best team in the conference against the spread, but that’s not impressive. UCLA is just 15-12-1 ATS on the season, but is 9-4-1 ATS at home with a margin of victory of 19.1 points per game.
The Trojans are surprisingly good on the road this season against the spread. Their 7-4 mark ATS on the road ranks fifth in the Pac-12. Of course, when you’re playing “juggernauts” like Cal, Utah, Oregon State, and Washington on the road, that record becomes less impressive. Even less so when 3-25 Oregon State takes you to double overtime.
Given the fact it is senior night, or super senior night, figure that Pauley Pavilion is amped. Are seniors actually seniors this season, or are we just letting everyone play until they’re 24 now?
Tyger Campbell played more like Tigger in the first game, with more turnovers than assists. Expect that to change here, as Campbell has an assist-to-turnover ratio of just under 3½-to-one Expect Juzang to play better this go-round, though he has struggled lately, with just 17 points in his last two games.
USC will have Mobley this game, but that might not mean much. He played in both losses to Stanford, and was part of the massacre against Arizona. The Trojans were down, 27-11, in the first 10 minutes and trailed by 24 at the half. Simply put, USC’s sparkling record is a product of a weak schedule. Of course, the Trojans did take down UCLA.