NCAA Basketball Picks: USC vs. Arizona State

Darin Zank

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 12:38 PM GMT

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015 12:38 PM GMT

Arizona State played some good ball down the stretch, reaching .500 in Pac-12 play, and now looks to make some noise in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, beginning with Wednesday's date with last-place USC. But can the Sun Devils cover six points?

 

Trojans-Sun Devils Betting Odds
The NCAA Basketball odds this game with Arizona State favored by six points, the total offered at right around 136, and both those numbers were holding firm in the early betting.

 

Trojans-Sun Devils: Background
Arizona State has won five of its last seven games, after ending the regular season with a 74-70 victory over Cal last Saturday. The Sun Devils led that game by double-digits a couple of times in the second half, allowed the Bears to get within one point with about 30 seconds to go, then hit some free-throws to secure the victory.

But in missing a bunch of free-throws earlier in the game ASU came up four points short of pushing the spread as an eight-point favorite.

The Sun Devils lost their first four Pac-12 games this season; since then they're 9-5 SU, but only 6-8 ATS, in part because it seemed oddsmakers caught on to what ASU was up to, and favored the Devils by a bit too much in at least a couple of games.

At 9-9 in conference play Arizona State finished tied for fifth place in the Pac-12 Tournament

USC, meanwhile, has won two of its last six games, which for the Trojans is a great stretch of ball, considering they lost 11 of their first 12 Pac-12 contests. Southern Cal ended the regular season last Wednesday with an 85-74 loss at USC, but covered as a 13-point underdog.

In fact, the Trojans are 10-8 ATS in conference play this season, and 6-3 ATS over their last nine games, suggesting odds makers have been forced to inflate their lines toward USC's opponents recently.

The Trojans finished in last place in the Pac-12 at 3-15, which was actually a one-win improvement over last year's 2-16 conference campaign.

The winner of this game meets fourth-seeded UCLA Thursday.

 

Trojans-Sun Devils Recent History
ASU has beaten USC five of the last six meetings, going 5-1 ATS over that span. The Sun Devils beat the Trojans in the only meeting this season 64-59 in Tempe, but USC covered as a 12-point underdog. The Trojans, who played shorthanded that night, actually led by 10 with about 10 minutes to go, but ASU rallied and finally took the lead for good with less than a minute to go.

USC out-shot Arizona State from the floor that night 46 to 33 percent, but the Trojans got whistled for 24 fouls, compared to 12 for the Sun Devils, which resulted in a 17-point disparity from the free-throw line. USC also committed 15 turnovers, compared to ASU's 11.

That game played UNDER its total of 143.

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By the Numbers
USC is shooting just 42 percent from the floor this season, just 32 percent from 3-point range and 64 percent from the FT line. Collectively, that's pretty lousy. At the other end of the court, though, the Trojans are holding opponents to just under 42 percent FG shooting.

Arizona State is shooting 45 percent from the floor, while allowing opponents to shoot 45 percent.

 

Trojans-Sun Devils Betting Trends
USC is 15-12 on the totals this season, as Trojans games have averaged 137 points.

Arizona State is 14-14 on the totals, as Sun Devils games have averaged 136 points.

 

Injury Update
USC guard Jordan McLaughlin, who was averaging 12 points and five assists per game, was lost for the season to a shoulder injury last month. Since he went down the Trojans have gone 2-4 SU and 4-2 ATS.

 

Trojans-Sun Devils Free Pick
Arizona State is hot – well, 5-2 over its last seven – while USC just didn't make much progress this season. But from what we can tell college basketball's oddsmakers, as of late, have been overrating Arizona State slightly, while under-rating USC. So while it's not easy for us to recommend a team that just went 3-15 in conference play we'll take the Trojans and the points in this spot for our NCAA Basketball picks.

Free Pac-12 Tournament Pick: USC +6  at BetOnline

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