Oregon's Matchup Edge Should Mean Another Cover vs. USC

Rainman M.

Thursday, January 18, 2018 3:16 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 3:16 PM UTC

Oregon has won the past 14 meetings with Southern Cal, including covers in the past five. Is it wise to bet on the Ducks making it six straight covers with your NCAAB picks tonight?

Thursday College Basketball: USC vs. Oregon

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Free NCAAB Pick: Oregon -2Best Line Offered: Heritage

USC's lineup is characterized by experience, ranking 101st in the nation in that category. Junior big men Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright account for the largest share of the Trojans' possessions and shots. Metu leads USC with 16.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game because of his toughness inside, and ranks in the top 500 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. He excels at drawing fouls, ranking 256th in the category, and achieves many second-chance baskets off of rebounds. Boatright is right behind Metu, averaging 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Unlike Metu, he is a more balanced shot-taker. About half of his shots come from three.

Two guards also average double figures for the Trojans (13-6 SU). Point guard Jordan McLaughlin is the team's top distributor with a team-high 7.6 assists per game, ranking 15th in assist rate. He is USC's most dangerous three-point shooter, ranking 90th in three-point completion. He averages 13.2 points per game. Elijah Stewart averages 10.9. Like fellow shooting guard Jonah Matthews, Stewart averages 40 percent from behind the arc.

This year's new-look Ducks rank 284th in experience. Oregon (12-6 SU) doesn't rely primarily on its big men anymore but rather on its guard play.

Point guard Payton Pritchard easily leads the team with 34.1 minutes per game, and the added experience is slowly paying off as Pritchard is becoming a more reliable distributor. In the past two games he has achieved 30 points and 13 assists while committing only one turnover. He is drawing fouls at a higher rate and achieving much higher free-throw, two-point and three-point completion percentages than last year. He averaged 31 minutes per game last season in Oregon's two SU and ATS wins against USC.

Shooting guard Elijah Brown takes Oregon's highest percentage of shots, and his significant involvement has boosted Oregon's offense. Brown has produced 43 points in the past two games. He needs to keep being aggressive in driving toward the basket because he is 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the past two games and 43-for-45 on the season.

Freshman small forward Troy Brown and power forward Paul White also average double figures for the Ducks. Big men MiKyle McIntosh, Kenny Wooten and White are effective interior defenders.

The Verdict

Oregon, which has covered five times in a row against USC, is a -2 home favorite on tonight's NCAAB odds board. The logic behind this trend rests in the match-up advantage that favors Dana Altman's Ducks. Under Andy Enfield, USC's perimeter defense has progressively gotten weaker. This season, USC allows the 21st-highest proportion of three-pointers attempted. Oregon can exploit this weakness. The Ducks average the 72nd-highest proportion of three pointers attempted and will have chances to complete a lot of threes tonight. The success of Oregon's offense depends especially on Pritchard. In four of Oregon's six losses, he has completed one or zero threes. On the season, he averages 40.8 percent from behind the arc and can achieve that percentage against a much weaker USC perimeter defense.

Defensively, Oregon continues to be solid inside, allowing the 325th-lowest point distribution from two. It ranks 38th in two-point completion percentage allowed. By limiting Metu and Boatwright, Oregon can take away the crux of USC's offensive protection.

In our NCAAB picks, expect another Oregon cover against USC behind Pritchard and Oregon's stout interior defense.

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