Stanford's Cover Streak on Line Against Revenge-Seeking Trojans

Cardinal Trojans Hoops

Rainman M.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 3:02 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018 3:02 PM GMT

Southern Cal is a big home favorite Wednesday night in Pac-12 action, but can the Trojans avenge their recent loss at Stanford and end the Cardinal’s six-game cover streak?

Wednesday College Basketball: Stanford vs. Southern CalFree NCAAB Pick: USC -10Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Stanford’s young lineup ranks 298th in experience and includes two freshmen. One of those is point guard Daejon Davis, who already has achieved notoriety for this:

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Davis' half-court buzzer-beater on Jan. 7 capped a 15-point second-half comeback in an upset of USC. Davis is listed as questionable for tonight's rematch. Backup Isaac White is also a freshman. He’s also very turnover-prone, but not as much of a playmaker. Shooting guard Dorian Pickens is finally healthy and looking for consistency. He’ll try to score in double figures for the third straight game for the first time this season.

Stanford’s offensive production derives primarily from inside the arc. The Cardinal (11-9 SU) has the 90th-highest point distribution from two. Its superstar is power forward Reid Travis. Travis easily leads the team in minutes per game, percentage of possessions involved in and percentage of shots taken. The junior leads the team with 20 points per game and has the lowest turnover rate because of his forcefulness inside. He achieves second-chance points with his rebounding skills, averaging 7.6 rebounds per game. He ranks 37th in fouls drawn and 408th in two-point completion percentage.

Center Michael Humphrey is another notable force around the rim. He leads the team with 8.2 rebounds per game. Whereas Travis excels at offensive rebounding, Humphrey ranks 47th in defensive rebounding percentage. He also leads the team with .9 blocks per game. The center is also a relative threat from behind the arc, ranking 435th in three-point completion percentage. Small forward Kezie Okpala is the team’s other starting freshman. He is also finally healthy and has achieved double figures in six of his last seven games.

USC’s lineup contains more known variables. It returns its four leading scorers from last year.

Like Stanford, USC’s top offensive players are big men. Center Chimezie Metu and power forward Bennie Boatwright lead the team with 16.6 and 15.1 points per game, respectively. Both players take the overwhelming majority of shots for USC (15-6 SU). Metu relies primarily on his presence inside and ranks in the top 200 in fouls drawn. Boatwright is also dangerous from three.

Unlike Stanford, USC boasts experienced and proven guard play. Senior Jordan McLaughlin ranks 19th in assist rate, averaging a team-best 7.5 assists per game. He is also dangerous from three, ranking 123rd in three-point completion percentage. Guards Jonah Matthews and Elijah Stewart are additional reasons USC ranks 38th in three-point completion percentage. Both rank in the top 400 in the category.

The Verdict

USC, big home favorites on the NCAAB odds board, won’t give up another 15-point lead tonight. Expect a more concentrated effort from the Trojans, who surely remember the humiliation they suffered at Stanford on Jan. 7. Stanford is also in a bad spot because it is coming off a late, deflating loss vs. Arizona and faces a USC team that is rolling with four straight wins and covers.

The Trojans’ key advantages will come from three and in transition. The Cardinal allows the 103rd-highest proportion of three-pointers. So various Trojan guards, plus Boatwright, can display their shooting prowess. Also, Stanford’s turnover numbers are abysmal. Davis, if he plays, averages 4.4 turnovers per game as Stanford’s top option at point guard. USC likes to play at a fast pace offensively and should benefit by forcing turnovers.

The situation and matchup speak for a USC cover with our NCAAB picks.

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