The No. 12 Arizona Wildcats look to get back to their winning ways when they host the USC Trojans Wednesday. The Wildcats dropped their first conference game of the season on Saturday, losing as 9-point favorites at Washington State.
The loss dropped Arizona to fourth place in the Pac-12 Conference standings. USC is tied for eighth place in the conference standings with a 2-4 record. The USC vs Arizona betting odds have the Wildcats favored by 19.5 points, and the total on the game is 159 points.
Day/Time: Wednesday, January 17, 10:00 p.m. ET
Location: McKale Memorial Center, Tucson, Arizona
Streaming: Watch Live Sports
Trojans Hit Rough Stretch
After starting the season 5-2, USC has hit a rough patch, losing seven of its last 10 games. That also coincides with the schedule getting a bit tougher. USC is 8-9 overall this NCAAB season and 8-9 against the point spread. The Trojans struggled on the road a bit, going 3-6 straight-up and 4-5 ATS. Southern Cal has been a strong over team this season, going 12-5 in totals.
The Trojans are averaging 76.8 points per game against teams, allowing 70.4 points. USC is a solid 3-point shooting team at 36.1%. But the Trojans are pretty average shooting 2-pointers at 50.7%. Southern Cal is average at the foul line and does a fair job grabbing offensive rebounds. But USC makes too many turnovers, ranking No. 233 in the country in turnover percentage. Leading scorer Boogie Ellis missed the last game with a hamstring issue and is listed as questionable for tonight. Second-leading scorer Isaiah Collier will miss another three to five weeks, and forward Joshua Morgan has missed the last two games.
USC is a fair defensive team. The Trojans are allowing 74.4 points to teams averaging 76.6 points per game. Southern Cal is pretty decent with its inside defense, allowing teams to shoot 48.7%. But the 3-point defense is the weak link, where teams shoot 35.8%. The Trojans are capable of forcing some turnovers but do allow a few more offensive rebounds than you like to see.
Wildcats Rise to Higher Level at Home
There are quite a few college basketball teams that would gladly trade records with Arizona. The Wildcats are 12-4 on the season, outscoring foes by 19.3 points per game. But Arizona takes it up another notch in the McKale Center, going 8-0 straight-up and 8-0 against the spread. The Wildcats outscore foes 98.6 to 61.6 at home. Despite losing four games already, the Wildcats are still one of the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament. Arizona’s odds to win March Madness are at +1000.
The Wildcats are averaging 91.2 points per game against teams, allowing 71.4 points. Arizona pushes the tempo to take advantage of its athleticism, ranking No. 9 in the KenPom adjusted pace ratings. The Wildcats are a solid shooting team, ranking No. 25 in 3-point shooting at 37.8% and No. 35 in 2-point field goals at 54.9%. Arizona is one of the better teams in the country in offensive rebounding and does a good job at minimizing turnovers.
Arizona’s defense is solid, despite allowing the opposition to make some shots. The Wildcats allow opposing teams to shoot 42.1%, but are the best team in the country at preventing offensive rebounds. Arizona is a little better than average at forcing turnovers and making steals.
What to Expect
A lot of what we’ll see from the Trojans depends on who is playing. Bronny James made his first start last game against Colorado and could get the nod here, depending on Ellis. But without Collier, the Trojans would be wise to try to slow down a little bit. Running with the Wildcats is never a good idea, especially if you’re playing short-handed.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Wildcats will look to get up-and-down the court. Arizona can wear down the Trojans, since the USC bench will be on the short side. The Wildcats have won and covered the spread after losing the previous three tries. Arizona has gone 1-2 in totals against the NCAAB scores and odds in those three games.
Who to Bet On?
The USC vs Arizona point spread is high, there no doubt about that. But with the Trojans missing Collier and possibly Ellis tonight, the number makes sense. The college basketball predictions would have Arizona close to a 16-point favorite without the injuries. So, if anything, the spread might not be considering the injuries to USC as much as it should.
The USC vs Arizona total of 159 is also a bit dependent on who plays for Southern California Trojans. The Trojans managed just 58 points in the last game against Colorado, and that was after scoring 37 points in the first half. If USC is going to slow the game down, the under could be worth a look. But there’s no guarantee that will be what Southern Cal looks to do.
Arizona has only been at home once after a loss, and it responded with a 97-50 win over Colorado. You have to expect another big home effort here and the Wildcats -19.5 are the side to be on.