Cal Poly vs. USC: Power D's Make 'Under' 151 Your NCAA Basketball Pick

Willie Bee

Thursday, December 17, 2015 12:44 PM GMT

Balanced scoring has paced the USC Trojans so far this season, and they're favorites on the NCAA basketball odds Thursday night to pick up win No. 9 against Cal Poly.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 151
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

Let's hope Thursday's meeting between the Cal Poly Mustangs and USC Trojans is more exciting than the last time they met. Southern Cal certainly hopes the outcome isn't the same.

Off to their best start on the hardwood in nine seasons, the Trojans welcome the Mustangs to Galen Center tonight in a 10 PM (ET) tip that will be carried by the Pac-12 Network. Now in his third season running the oft-overlooked program at USC, Andy Enfield has his squad up to 28th in the latest RPI and 36th on the KenPom list, and looking to match the 9-2 start the 2006-07 Trojans got off to.

BetOnline was the first to throw up NCAA basketball odds on the game, listing the men of Troy at -10½. That spread has since dipped a point with 151 for the total.

Officially, Cal Poly holds a 2-0 lead in this series, though in reality it's 1-1 after Southern Cal had to give up a December 2007 win after getting caught with its hands in the cookie jar by the NCAA. The Mustangs' true victory came at the 2011 Las Vegas Invitational, and was one of the best examples of bad college basketball in recent memory.

Favored by 9, the Trojans suffered a 42-36 loss after blowing a 7-point halftime lead. Southern Cal didn't score its first bucket until more than three minutes into the first half, the Mustangs scoring just one bucket over the course of the ensuing seven minutes. If not for the 20 points the teams combined for at the free throw line, it would've been even uglier. The final fell about 35 points shy of the closing total.

 

Trojans Might Be Without Point Guard Jacobs
Southern Cal (8-2 straight up, 7-3 against the spread) breezed to a 5-0 start, its best in more than 15 years, capping the early burst with an upset of then-No. 20 Wichita State in the opening round of the AdvoCare Invitational on Thanksgiving afternoon. The Trojans were small 2 point pups in the tilt, and used 22 points from Bennie Boatwright and a double-double from fellow forward Nikola Jovanovic to overcome 23 turnovers in the win.

Their only two losses came in the following rounds of the tourney, an 87-77 setback vs. Xavier as 4 point underdogs and an 83-73 upset at the hands of Monmouth in the consolation bracket as 5 point favorites. The Musketeers outmuscled the Trojans on the board in their clash, while USC shot a season-low 36% from the field in the loss to the Hawks, the second time the schools had met on this year's slate.

Three victories have followed, including a 68-56 decision over Yale last Sunday. Julian Jacobs missed the win over the Bulldogs, and the junior guard is questionable for Thursday's game with a foot injury. Jacobs is third on the team in scoring (12.2 ppg), one of five Trojans averaging double-digits, and leads the squad with 5.3 assists a game.

 

Ponies Tamed At Saint Mary's
Cal Poly (5-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) got a long road trip off on a losing note on Monday when the Mustangs were dominated by Saint Mary's, 93-63. Joe Callero's crew fell behind at the outset and had no answer for the Gaels' ball movement (28 assists) and strong showing from 3-point range (19-31, 61%). Luke Meikle came off the bench to tie his season high of 18 points, but leading scorer Joel Awich (13.1 ppg) was held to 8, half of those from the charity stripe.

The Mustangs will head to the Lone Star State after this contest for three games that culminate with a December 29 battle at No. 24 Texas A&M. They'll take a week off after that before traveling to Hawaii on January 6.

Even without Jacobs, the Trojans should have enough to cover this nearly double-digit spread, but I feel better about making my free NCAA basketball pick on the final stopping short of the total.