Crosstown rivals USC and UCLA meet in a first round game at the Pac 12 basketball tournament in Los Angeles. Tip-off is 5:30 PM ET at Staples Center, home of the Lakers, Clippers and NHL Kings. Where should you lay your money?

NCAA basketball odds list the 5th seed Bruins, who haven’t lost since a less than flattering article about the team appeared in Sports Illustrated, as -13 point favorites with the total at 114. A spread of 12.5 can be found at some NCAA basketball betting, but for the most part, the lines seem to be holding steady at most sportsbooks.

Join me as I breakdown this matchup and explain why I have decided to add a play on this game's total to my NCAA Basketball picks.

Season to forget

USC vs. UCLAIt would be understatement to say this has been a long year for the 12th seed Trojans (6-25 SU, 9-21 ATS) who went 1-17 in conference play. USC is down to just to six scholarship players on the active roster and their lone Pac 12 victory came on January 12 over the second worst team in the league, the Utah Utes 62-45.

Maurice Jones and Byron Wesley have done the majority of the heavy lifting for SC with Jones leading in scoring (13.2 ppg) and assists (3.4) while Wesley (9.5 ppg) is tops on the team in rebounds (5.0) and field goal percentage (41.3).

The Trojans were next last in the nation in scoring (53.0 points per game) but were a respectable 23rd in fewest points allowed per game (59.8).

UCLA (18-13 SU, 15-14 ATS) finished strong winning four of its last five conference games including a sweep of the Washington schools. The Bruins wrapped up the regular season beating Washington 75-69 to deny the Huskies the regular season title. Senior guard Lazeric Jone,s who leads the Bruins in scoring (13.4 points per game), had 20 points while David Wear added 16 points and 10 boards. The victory upped UCLA’s conference record to 11-7.


As you can imagine the trends for the Trojans are awful. For starters they’re on a 3-14 ATS run in their last 17 league games and 9-23 overall vs. the number in their past 32 games. USC is 2-8 last 10 ATS and haven’t faced a total higher than 123.5 during that stretch.

UCLA is 7-2 ATS in its last nine home games but 2-6 vs. the number in its last eight home games against USC. The Bruins swept the season series by scores of 64-54 and 66-47. Both games topped the total with the lines set at 114.5 and 110 respectively.

The Bruins lead the all-time series 92-40, including 60-7 in Los Angeles. UCLA’s win over Washington was its last game in the historic Sports Arena before moving back to the renovated Pauley Pavilion next season.

Cal (+180) is favored to win the tournament followed by Washington (+350) and Arizona (+450). UCLA is listed at +600 with USC part of the field at +1500.

UCLA was picked to win the Pac-12 in the preseason poll but the off-court distractions were too much to overcome. Now their best chance, some say their only chance at getting into the NCAA tournament is to win the Pac 12 title this week.

Harvey’s Take: Beware of the Bruins. Since the article in Sports Illustrated came out two weeks ago saying that Coach Ben Howland had lost control of the team, UCLA hasn’t lost. This is a squad with a major chip on its shoulder and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Bruins could run the table this week.

Meanwhile the Trojans have lost 18 of their last 19 games, and five scholarship players have gone down with season-ending injuries.

As much as I like UCLA in this game, the price is a little high. My play will instead be on the ‘under’.

Good luck!