NCAA Basketball Picks: Bet Washington +7 At USC In Pac-12 Showdown

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, January 30, 2016 1:52 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 1:52 PM UTC

It's two of the biggest surprises in the Pac-12 Conference facing off on Saturday afternoon from Los Angeles when first-place Washington visits Southern Cal. Let's check the NCAA basketball odds.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Washington +7.5
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek


Home Sweet Home For USC
Last Monday, Southern Cal (16-5, 5-3 Pac-12) entered the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2008. Apparently the Trojans don't like success or something. They were swept in Oregon, losing last Thursday 89-81 at the Ducks, which was to be expected as Oregon is one of the Pac-12's better teams and currently tied for first. I previewed USC's game Sunday here at SBR at unranked Oregon State and said that OSU would not just cover as a 3-point home dog but win outright. Final score: Beavers 85, Trojans 70. In the two losses in the state of Oregon, USC shot 39.2 percent from the floor, including 26.9 percent from 3-point range. Southern Cal entered that trip making 46.7 from the field and 41.1 from 3-point range.

So those two defeats knocked USC back out of the polls. The Trojans could get back in with a win here following their 81-71 home victory over Washington State, the Pac-12's worst team, on Thursday. USC was up 11 at halftime and never really threatened. Five Trojans scored in double figures (including two reserves), led by Katin Reinhardt's 18 points. The Trojans improved to 12-0 at the Galen Center this season and 14-0 inside the state  of California.

If there remains one worry for USC, it's the struggles of guard  Jordan McLaughlin. He averages 12.4 points on the season but has had just 17 total in the past three games. He is a combined 5-for-22 from the field in that stretch. He had been playing through a fever in Oregon, to be fair, and appears to be back nearly 100 percent.

Southern Cal ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 83.5 points per game. It leads with 376 3-pointers made. USC hasn't finished better than 11th among Pac-12 teams in 3-pointers made the previous four seasons. The Trojans are 13-7-1 against the spread this season on NCAA basketball odds and 9-2-1 at home.


Washington Has Pac-12's Best Offense
Washington (14-6, 6-2 Pac-12) hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2011 but that's in good shape to change this season as the Huskies are tied atop the Pac-12 standings with Oregon. That said, UW still has work to do as it didn't have a quality non-conference win.

The Huskies started their two-game swing through Los Angeles with a resume-building 86-84 win at UCLA on Thursday to complete the season sweep of the Bruins for the first time since the 2010-11 season. Washington star Andrew Andrews hit the go-ahead free throw with three seconds left. The Huskies almost gagged the game away, leading by 18 in the second half and falling behind 82-79. Noah Dickerson led six Huskies in double figures with 15 points while Andrews added 12 and eight assists. He leads the Pac-12 in scoring by a mile at 21.3 points per game. Five of Washington's next six top scorers are freshmen.

Close games are the norm for Washington. It has had three Pac-12 games go to overtime. Four others, including Thursday's win, have been decided by five points or fewer. UW's only loss among those was 80-75 in OT at home to Utah last Sunday. The Huskies are the Pac-12's top scoring team at 84.6 points per game despite tied for the worst shooting percentage at .421. UW does get most of those misses, however, also leading the conference in rebounding.

The Huskies are 11-7 ATS this season on NCAA basketball picks and 3-1 on the road.


First Meeting
These teams  met in Seattle on Jan. 3. Washington was a 1-point favorite and won 87-85, rallying from a 22-point deficit with  just over 14 minutes to play and a seven-point hole with about two minutes left. Andrews hit the go-ahead putback with 25 seconds left. He finished with 24 points and Dejounte Murray had a career-high 29 points. USC's Reinhardt missed a tying jumper with one second left. Elijah Stewart scored on the putback but it was ruled after the buzzer. USC had to play the final 16 minutes without guard Julian Jacobs due to a sprained ankle. He might be USC's most important player, averaging 12.4 points, 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds.


Final Analysis
USC hasn't opened 13-0 at home since 1943. I say USC wins, but this line is much bigger than I expected so I'll take Washington to cover. UW is 8-2 in its past 10 Pac-12 games. It has covered five of its past six Saturday games. 

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