- USC is a 1.5-point home favorite over Colorado on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31, 10 pm EST)
- The Buffalo’s could be without senior point guard McKinley Wright IV, the heart and soul of the team
- See below for analysis, odds and a betting prediction
There’s a bevy of college hoops games to sweat on New Year’s Eve, including a Pac-12 tilt between Colorado and USC. The 6-2 Buffaloes dropped their conference opener earlier this week to Arizona, while this will be the first Pac-12 game for the 5-1 Trojans.
Colorado vs USC Odds
|Colorado Buffaloes||+1.5 (-110)||+106||Over 139.5 (-110)|
|USC Trojans||-1.5 (-110)||-124||Under 139.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 30h at FanDuel.
USC opened up as a 1.5-point favorite in a game that features a total of 139.5. The Trojans have won back-to-back games, albeit against weak competition, but have dropped four straight versus Colorado over the past two seasons.
The Buffaloes meanwhile, had their four-game winning streak snapped by the Wildcats, but could be without their most important player McKinley Wright IV for this matchup.
A Crushing Blow to Colorado
Wright suffered a right ankle injury in the final minute of action versus Arizona and was seen favoring his leg heavily as he limped off the court. His absence would be devastating to the Buffaloes’ prospects versus USC, as he’s the heart and soul of this Colorado team.
McKinley Wright just came up hobbling on his right leg late into the second half in a not close game at Arizona. An off night made worse. He’s limping around the bench area. #CUBuffs
— Jake Shapiro (@Shapalicious) December 29, 2020
The Senior point guard leads the squad in points, assists, steals and minutes per game, and is the only player who averages more than 2.7 assists. He pours in 5 more points than anyone else on the roster, and even if he does play, he’ll likely be limited.
His absence, or limited availability, could force Colorado to lean even heavier on its 3-point shooting. The Buffaloes are draining 38.8% of their looks from beyond the arc, and feature six players who’ve made more than 40% of their 3’s this season.
One big area of concern for the Buffaloes is their lack of size. Outside of Dallas Walton, no rotational player stands taller than 6-foot-8, which explains their poor rebounding numbers. Colorado ranks 178th in total rebounding, and 173rd in its own end, something that USC will definitely take advantage of.
Mobley Manhandling Competition
Leading the offensive and rebounding charge will be 7-foot Freshman Evan Mobley. This year’s number three overall recruit is off to a fantastic start, averaging 17.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3 blocks in six games. Last time out, he poured in 17 points, to go along with 7 boards and 3 swats, leading the Trojans to a 23 point win over Santa Clara.
Evan Mobley with 17, 7, 3 blocks and a 3PTM in pretty effortless fashion tonight vs. Santa Clara. No need for much analysis. Special prospect, unique fluidity/movement + skill for a 7-footer. pic.twitter.com/h5B9kM2hW8
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) December 30, 2020
USC ranks 19th in total rebounding and 12th in blocks, and its length should pose massive problems for the Buffaloes at both ends of the court.
The Trojans are also a terrific shooting team, with the best field goal percentage of any Pac-12 program, and feature five rotational players who are knocking down at least 50% of their looks. Aside from Mobley, three other players average double-digit points per game, including his brother Isaiah.
Roll with the Trojans
With McKinley’s status in serious jeopardy, grabbing USC at -1.5 now seems like the prudent play. If the Buffaloes’ star is ruled out, we could see the line move further in the Trojans’ favor, but even if he plays it’s fair to wonder how effective he’ll be.
The Trojans have a serious size advantage and should dominate inside, led by Mobley. The Freshman is playing at an elite level at the moment and is getting strong consideration for the number one pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Give me Mobley and the Trojans -1.5.
Pick: USC -1.5 (-110)