Pac -12 Late Night NCAAB Picks: Take Dominant USC -1.5 vs. Stanford

Jay Pryce

Thursday, February 25, 2016 1:12 PM GMT

Stanford host conference rivals USC. This is the first matchup in head coach Johnny Dawkins' tenure with the Cardinal he's spotted points (+1.5) to the Trojans at home. 

USC Trojans (19-8 SU, 16-10-1 ATS)
Head coach Andy Enfield's Trojans are much improved this year, ranking 33rd in offensive and 48th in defensive efficiency nationally. Their 19-8 start is the best since the 2006-07 season. Thus far, the team's 9.5 game improvement from last year (12-20 to 19-8) is tied for 10th best in the country and tops among teams in the Power 5 conferences.

Perhaps most impressive was USC's 15-0 home start, which came to end in the 80-69 loss to Utah on Sunday. Nevertheless, USC continues to struggle on the road in conference play. It is 2-5 SU and 3-4 ATS this year. In Enfield's tenure, the program is 4-24 overall in this spot. Despite the record, it has eclipsed oddsmakers' numbers a decent amount, covering 16 of the 28 against an average closing line of 9 points. USC's struggles are often against the Pac-12 elite, going just 1-7 ATS versus foes with a winning percentage greater than 75 percent, while besting the number 15 out of 21 games versus those with a lesser record—14 of these as a dog.

The Trojans have four players who have dropped 47 or more three-pointers on the year. Their 219 combined is tops in the Pac-12. Last season, Enfield only had three players who netted 16 or more—a huge improvement to say the least. The long-range shot may be a catalyst for a USC victory, as Stanford's 36.0 three-point percentage allowed is 256th nationally.

Production comes from many faces for the high-flying Trojans; six player average double-digit points. The backcourt combo of Jordan McLaughlin (134) and Julian Jacobs (131) is one of the best playmaking tandems in the nation—they are one of two sets of guards in the country with at least 130 assists this season.

USC is really missing forward Darion Clark, who has sat out the last five games with a shoulder injury, on the boards. They've been outrebounded by 5.8 per game with the redshirt junior sitting after winning the boards battle in 15 of 22 games when he played.

 

Stanford Cardinal (13-12 SU, 9-12-1 ATS)
Stanford is coming off its second lowest scoring night of the season in its 64-53 loss to Washington in Seattle on Saturday; the team put up a dismal 45 points in defeat to Villanova earlier in the year. Scoring just 68.7 points per game, coach Johnny Dawkins' crew own one of the lowest effective field-goal rates among Power 5 schools at 46.6. percent—the figure ranks 301st in the nation.

Look for Dawkins, who has shuffled his starting five a lot this year, to roll out a big lineup in hopes of dominating the paint with Clark still on the mend. PF Rosco Allen is the Cardinal's best player. The versatile 6-foot-9 Hungarian, who shoots 37 percent from downtown, is the team's leading scorer with 15.6 points per game. Expect G Marcus Allen, one of the team's four players posting double digits a night, to find success penetrating the paint—45 percent of his shots made are two-pointers; he's a dismal 22 percent behind the three-point arc.

Dawkins typically runs a 7-man rotation. The lack of depth, coupled with an ice-cold lineup, keeps Stanford from beating the number against faster-paced teams like the Trojans. The Cardinal, in fact, are just 1-9 against the NCAA basketball odds in their last 10 against foes averaging 57.2 field goal attempts or more a night. For what it's worth, this has been a chronic problem for Stanford under the former Duke player and coach where short rotations are the norm. Since taking over in 2008, Dawkins' Cardinal are 20-27 SU, 18-28-1 versus Pac-12 foes under these conditions.

 

Final Analysis
Stanford's offense is as inconsistent as any in the conference, but their game management and strong defense can keep them in most games, particularly at Maples Pavilion. USC is not the same team away from home, and have struggled in Palo Alto historically. Dawkins' job is likely on the line with his squad sitting 10th in conference and on the NIT bubble. If the Cardinal can find their stroke and control play down low, it would not shock to see them win outright. But even so, the Trojans can score in bunches, and it may be difficult for Stanford to find one late. Add USC as the sharp NCAA basketball pick.

 

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2936618, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,93,19,92,238,169], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
NCAA Basketball Pick: USC -1.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle