High Total Makes Our NCAA Basketball Picks Go 'Under' When UCLA Visits USC

Charles Stark

Thursday, February 4, 2016 11:48 AM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 11:48 AM UTC

There was no doubt when USC traveled to UCLA, that they would have a chance to win, and that the game would be very high-scoring. Don't miss our NCAA basketball picks for this.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 160½
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


NCAA Basketball Odds Overview
NCAA basketball odds boards have the total for this game set at 160.5 like at Bookmaker -110. This is a big total for college basketball, but it makes sense with the way these two play and looking at their last matchup. However, this is just a bit too much in my opinion, so I will backing under the total tonight for one of my NCAA basketball picks of the day.


UCLA Bruins
UCLA is averaging 80.1 point per game while shooting 46.1% from the field, and allowing 76.8 points per game on 42.1% shooting from the field. On the season, they are 14-8 on their over under totals, and 5-4 on the road. This has been an interesting team to watch this season, and I think it is easy to see they are not playing nearly as well as most people anticipated. Offensively, they have been really good at pushing the tempo averaging 63.1 field goal attempts per game which ranks 16th in the country, the problem though is that they allow opponents to get up 64.1 shots per game which ranks them in the very bottom part of college basketball. From the inside out they can score, and although their percentages are not some of the best in college basketball, they still average 29.1 field goals made per game which ranks 12th in the country. Defensively, they have struggled, and it has mostly come from the tempo they allow. For a team like UCLA, if they're going to push the pace like head coach Steve Alford wants them to do, then they better be able to defend while doing it, and UCLA has not. Their percentages are not horribly bad though and the do defend beyond the arc decently well allowing opponents to shoot just 33.4% from distance. I believe in order for them to hang at all with USC tonight, it will have to start with them controlling the pace, and I believe they will try to do that.

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USC Trojans
USC is averaging 84.2 points per game while shooting 46.2% from the field, and allowing 73.9 points per game on 40% shooting from the field. On the season, the Trojans are 12-10 on their over under totals overall, but only 6-7 at home. Head coach Andy Enfield has this team looking like a program that is on the cusp of taking over Arizona's recent traditional spot as the best team in the conference. Offensively, they push tempo even more than UCLA averaging 64.2 field goal attempts per game which ranks eighth in the country, making 29.7 of those which ranks them seventh. They can score from the inside out and rebound the ball about as good as anybody in the country averaging 42.1 total rebounds per game which ranks eighth in college basketball. They are also deadly from distance shooting 38.7% from beyond the arc. What I like about this team, though, is how they are able to translate their great offense into great defense, and USC has some nice defensive averages. The Trojans allow opponents to shoot only 30.5% from beyond the arc which ranks them 20th in the country, as well as only allowing 45.1% in opponent effective field goals ranking them 21st in the country. The only negative thing they do on defense as they allow opponents to put up a lot of shots, but they do a good job contesting shots and rank 14th in the country in opponent shooting efficiency. This is a very tough well-rounded team, and I like for them to put the clamps down on UCLA tonight.

It is understandable that odds makers would make this total very high, but I believe it is just a bit too high. I don't expect a low-scoring affair tonight between UCLA and USC, but I do believe they will stay under this number. For one of your NCAA basketball picks, I recommend backing under the total in what should be a good game if you're an USC fan.

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