USC Vs. UCLA Odds, Picks, Predictions NCAAB (1/5/23)

It’s one of the best color-schemed rivalries in all of sports as the USC Trojans take on the UCLA Bruins in what will be a very appealing game to watch. While USC has hovered around mediocracy, UCLA’s production has shot up to a whole another level since bringing in Mick Cronin. While USC has nowhere near sniffed the same level of success as UCLA in recent years, they have fared well in this rivalry. Can USC get the upset once again?

USC Vs. UCLA Odds

Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Trojans as a +14 underdog. Bettors on the other hand are a lot more confident in their chances to contend as they have backed the Trojans down to as low as +12.5 in some books. This comes as no surprise given their recent history in this rivalry, containing a defensive identity to limit the Bruins lethal offensive success. They will need to call upon their defense again as UCLA’s offensive production is once again playing at an elite level.

Speaking of offensive success, oddsmakers believe points will be scored in a flash by opening the total at 140.5. Bettors have been neutral on the number, failing to nudge it in either direction from the opening total. This is intriguing as USC’s record has indicated that they have played at an elite level, but their metrics speak otherwise. Still, this is a team with an identity to give UCLA fits which would heavily correlate to which side this total lands on.

USC Vs. UCLA Prediction & Pick

The Pick: USC +13

It’s no secret that UCLA is one of the best teams in the nation this year with a very well-balanced team that excels on both ends at an elite level. Mick Cronin may have his best team during his tenure at UCLA, one that has serious NCAA Championship aspirations. Yet I just can’t help but fall in love with USC at the current number. While I failed to grab them at the open, I will gladly take them at the current number of +13.

Recency bias aside, USC is well equipped to keep this within the number even when they are potentially outmatched on both ends. Like UCLA, the Trojans are well balanced as well but at a far less efficient rate. While UCLA is top-10 in both Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Efficiency ratings per Kenpom, USC hovers around the low 70’s in both metrics.

But just because their metrics dictate that they are thoroughly outmatched, doesn’t mean that this may end closer than UCLA would comfortably like it. Especially because of USC’s defensive identity, a scheme that is well equipped to limit the methodical style of play that UCLA brings to the table.

UCLA’s offensive success over the past few years has come from attacking the mid-range at a very efficient rate. A rarity in today’s style of play, but lethal nonetheless. Over half their points come from the interior with their guards being able to both facilitate on cuts as well as pull up for a high-quality jump shot. Very frustrating to defend over the course of a game.

That is until they go against a Trojan squad that is more than able to limit the interior damage and take away their mid-range. As of writing, the Trojans currently rank near the top of the nation in defensive two-point field goal percentage as well as generating Havoc with their shot blocking. This form of defense will force the Bruins to beat them from deep, a style of play that is inconsistent over the course of the game.

USC Vs. UCLA Key Matchups

Can USC’s offense give them enough scoring production to stay within the number?

USC scoring production vs UCLA defense

With the Trojan defense being able to slow down the UCLA scoring output, it will be up to their offense to carry the rest of the weight to stay within the number. USC’s scoring production resides mainly on the shoulders of Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson, their only two scorers in double digit figures.

With UCLA faring as a smaller unit in comparison to national average, USC will have plenty of chances to get to the paint from cuts at the perimeter. Especially from their heavy guard usage, getting drives for clean looks at the basket for high quality scoring opportunities.

Verdict

Thanks in large part to their defense being able to take away UCLA’s mid-range attack, I love the Trojans ability to stay within the number.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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