- USC will visit cross-town rival UCLA in game that could determine the regular season league champion
- USC has lost three of its last five games and UCLA has lost its last two
- Check the odds, analysis and betting predictions below
USC (20-6, 14-5 Pac-12) will conclude the Pac-12 regular season taking on cross-town rival UCLA at 4pm ET on Saturday. The Trojans were in control of the Pac-12 race until consecutive losses at Colorado and Utah last week threw it wide open.
UCLA (17-7, 13-5), similarly, was in control of its destiny in the league race until recent consecutive losses at Colorado and Oregon, which gave the Ducks the inside track to the title.
USC vs UCLA Odds
|USC Trojans||TBA||-1 (-116)||Over 135 (110)|
|UCLA Bruins||TBA||+1 (-116)||Under 135 (-110)|
Odds from FanDuel on March 5.
USC recovered from a two-game losing streak with a 79-42 thrashing of Stanford at home Wednesday. It was the Trojans’ largest margin of victory in a Pac-12 game since a 106-69 victory Washington on Feb. 25, 1967. USC has won 20 games in six of the last seven seasons.
The USC-UCLA winner will claim the Pac-12 regular-season title if Oregon State beats Oregon (18-5, 13-4) on Sunday. The Beavers won the first meeting this season, 75-64 in Eugene. The league champion will be determined by winning percentage because of COVID-19 scheduling disruptions.
USC Still High in Some Rankings
Both USC and UCLA spent a short time in the AP Top 25 this season before dropping out, but the Trojans remain well-regarded in both the KenPom and NCAA rankings. USC is No. 16 in the NCAA net rankings, second in the Pac-12 to No. 14 Colorado. UCLA is No. 43.
The Trojans are eighth in NCAA Division I in shooting percentage defense, limiting opponents to 38.7% from the field, second to Michigan among Power Six teams. They are 11th in Division I in blocked shots at 5.2 per game.
USC limited Stanford to 25.4% shooting on Wednesday, when the Cardinal played without leading scorer Oscar da Silva. The Trojans opened the game on a 17-2 run, similar to their 17-1 start in a 72-58 victory over Oregon the week before.
The Trojans are No. 16 in adjusted efficiency margin in the KenPom ratings, one spot ahead of Colorado.
Evan Mobley All Over Awards Lists
Seven-foot USC freshman Evan Mobley, projected to be a top five pick in the 2021 NBA draft and a top candidate for the Pac-12 player of the year, also is in the running for several national honors.
Mobley was named one of 10 Naismith player of the year semifinalists earlier in the week and is one of five finalists for the Karl Malone Award (top power forward) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award (top center). Mobley also is one of the 10 candidates for Naismith defensive player of the year.
He is averaging 16.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocked shots and 2.2 assists per game, the only Division I player to reach those levels in each category.
Mobley’s presence has the most to do with the Trojans’ success on defense and the boards, where they are No. 13 in Division I with a plus-8.1 rebounding margin per game. He leads the league in rebounds (200), blocked shots (72) and double-doubles (nine).
UCLA in a Rut
After winning four straight games, UCLA has lost its last two, and it fell flat in both down the stretch.
UCLA led Oregon 60-51 with 11:16 remaining before unraveling against the Ducks’ aggressive, full-court pressure in an 82-74 loss in Eugene on Wednesday. Oregon used a 15-2 run to take the lead as UCLA committed six turnovers and was 1-for-6 from the field in the next seven minutes. UCLA tied it with four minutes left but Oregon scored 10 of the next 12 points. The Ducks shot 60.8% from the field.
The Bruins had a similar ineffective stretch in a 70-61 loss at Colorado last Saturday. After Tyger Campbell’s 3-pointer gave UCLA a 57-55 lead with 7:15 remaining, Colorado went on a 15-1 run to take control. The Bruins committed six turnovers down the stretch and did not make another field goal until the final 23 seconds.
Campbell averages 5.7 assists, second in the Pac-12, but the Bruins’ other perimeter players are scorers first and ball-handlers second.
Guard Jules Bernard had a career-high 23 points against Oregon but did not score in the final 13 minutes.
By the Numbers
USC is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games but only 2-3 since a home loss to Arizona two weeks ago. The Trojans are 5-4 ATS in Pac-12 road games. They pounded UCLA 66-48 in the first meeting on Feb. 6, when the Bruins shot 33.9% and were 3-of-19 from distance.
UCLA is 2-10 ATS in their last 12, covering only in victories at Utah and at home against Arizona.
USC has won the last three games and four of the last five in the series, holding the Bruins to 48, 52 and 63 points in the last three. The Trojans are seeking their first Pac-12 regular-season championship since 1985.
USC had no trouble in the first match this season, and as long as Evan Mobley is on the floor there is no reason to suspect that will change when the series moves to Pauley Pavilion.
The pick: USC -1 (-110)