After their recent story in Sports Illustrated, there will be a lot of eyes tuned in to watch Ben Howland’s UCLA Bruins (18-13, 11-7 Pac-12) take on the woeful USC Trojans (6-25, 1-17 Pac-12). While USC players will be watching the NCAA tournament from home (barring an epic tourney run), the Bruins still have a lot to play for.
Joe Lunardi of ESPN has California and Washington as the only teams making the tournament out of the Pac-12, but a few wins could push UCLA into the post-season picture.
The Bruins feature a very well-balanced offense in which four players’ average double-figure scoring and two players are right on the cusp. However, their floor leader is senior guard Lazeric Jones who leads the team in scoring at 13.4 per game, while ranking second in assists at 4.2. The X-factor for UCLA is center Joshua Smith — an extremely talented prospect that has struggled with weight and conditioning throughout his short collegiate career. The 6’10″ big man weighs a hefty 305 pounds, but still averages 10 points in less than 18 minutes per game.
For USC, there are very few positives to take from this season. The team has lost nine straight games and has just one conference victory on the year (a 62-45 victory over Utah on January 28th). Their leading scorer, Maurice Jones, plays 38 minutes per game but manages a paltry 33.8% field goal percentage. The real key to the Trojans offense is junior forward Aaron Fuller, who is unfortunately out for the season with a shoulder injury. For the latest injury updates, be sure to take a look at Sports Insights’ College Basketball Injury page.
This game will mark the third matchup between these teams this season with UCLA winning the two previous meetings. Back on January 15th, UCLA went into the Galen Center and held the Trojans to just 36% shooting in a 66-47 victory. In the rematch a month later, USC once again failed to shoot over 40% and were outrebounded by 20 in a 64-54 loss.
UCLA opened as a 13-point favorite at the market-setting CRIS sportsbook and, according to Sports Insights’ College Basketball Betting Trends, is currently receiving 81% of spread wagers and 69% of moneyline bets. Although the public is pounding the Bruins, the line has actually dropped half of a point to -12.5. This is a prime example of reverse line movement — a strong indicator that sharp money likes the underdog.
So far none of our betting systems have been triggered on the spread in this game; however All-Pro members are able to view all of our College Basketball Betting System Plays by logging-in to their SportsInsights.com account.
While most of the marketplace is offering this game at -12.5 there are actually numbers available on both sides of this line. Heritage is shopping this line at -12, while Legendz is currently offering -13. This once again demonstrates the importance of keeping multiple books and shopping for the best line.
The following table shows the breakdown of spread betting percentages from our six contributing sportsbooks: