USC Trojans vs. Arizona Wildcats NCAAB Free Pick 02/19/15
Play USC Trojans +24
The USC Trojans visit the Arizona Wildcats for a 9:00 pm ET tip as televised by PAC 12 TV. This features the best vs. the worst team in the PAC 12. USC is just 2-11 SU for the season in PAC 12 play, while Arizona is 10-2 SU losing only at the undefeated home court of Oregon St. and at in-state rival Arizona St. These teams have met just once in the last 2 seasons with Arizona posting a 73-53 victory at USC last year. Let’s take a look at the reasons why USC may have the ability to come inside this lofty number.
This is the 2nd year of Trojan basketball under Andy Enfield. You will remember Enfield as the author of “Dunk City” at FGCU. While the success at FGCU has continued (they are 19-7 for the season and lead the Atlantic Sun at 9-1 SU), Enfield has been unable to translate his wildly successful style to southern California. Last year USC was just 11-21 SU, 2-16 SU in PAC 12 play. This year, it is little better with a 10-15 SU mark overall and just 2-11 SU in PAC 12 play. The only victories have come on their home court against California and Oregon St. The Trojans began the conference season with losses of 79-59 at Utah and 86-65 at Colorado. Since that time, however, USC has done a better job controlling the pace. The result has been a more than acceptable 7-4 ATS record, including covering their last 4 PAC 12 road games with no loss by more than 8 points. Their defense is surprisingly good for a team with their record. They allow just 42% from the field and 32% from the arc. They will, admittedly, have problems scoring against the Arizona stop unit.
Along with Utah, Arizona has dominated the PAC 12 this season. This has been especially true at their home court McKale Center. For, it is on this home court that Arizona is 5-0 SU ATS in league play with victories of 24, 14, 18, 34 and 23 points. In fact, when laying 13 or more points at McKale, the Wildcats are a perfect 9-0 ATS. Fourth year HC Miller has retooled his 33-5 SU team of last season in no small part that has been aided by the arrival of frosh sensation, Stanley Johnson. As always, the calling card of Miller teams is defense. The Wildcats allow just 59 PPG, 40% from the field, 33% from the arc. With a +7.9 rebound margin and positives in TO/assist ratio and TO margin, the Wildcats are a fully qualified Defensive Dandy. So why would we possibly be looking to fade this team?
Each day, the handicapper is asked to do situational handicapping regarding each team. Among the teams’ emotional responses are bounce back, let down and look-aheads. Arizona clearly qualifies under the latter of those. For, on Saturday evening, the storied UCLA program will be entering the McKale Center where the ESPN Game Day crew will be filming the entire day. It is clearly a look-ahead spot for Arizona, who will be facing the Bruins for the only time this season. By this time in the year, lines have been adjusted for the success of the nation’s big name teams. It has been an historically profitable situation to play any college basketball road underdog of 20 or more points, when they are facing a home team with a win percentage of .800 or better, who is on a pointspread winning streak. Arizona enters today at 8-1 SU ATS. Grab the 23 points, as the Trojans do no worse than come through the back door as Arizona looks ahead to Saturday’s Game Day performance.