College Basketball Predictions: USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins

USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins
Wednesday, 3/7/12, 5:30 PM EST, TV: Fox Sports Net
Opening Point Spread:  UCLA -13
Current Betting Line:  UCLA -12.5
Opening Total:  113
Current Total:  113.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The UCLA Bruins have already beaten the USC Trojans by double digits two times this year

USC is set to play its biggest rival in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament at Staples Center and comes in on a nine-game losing streak.  The Trojans were swept by the Washington schools to end regular-season play, including a 43-38 loss to the Cougars as 3.5-point home underdogs last time out.  Offensively, the 38 points wasn’t even the fewest the squad had scored all season, tallying only 36 points in a loss to Cal Poly earlier in the year.  USC is 6-4 ATS in all tournament games the last two-plus campaigns.

The Trojans are 13-11 all-time in this particular tournament, with one win being vacated due to an NCAA penalty.  USC has won its first game in the tournament the last four times it has participated.  One thing the team does exceptionally well despite having a poor 6-25 overall record is limiting turnovers, ranking 12th nationally in committing just 10.6 miscues per game.  Sophomore guard Maurice Jones is certainly a player to watch, averaging a team-high 13.2 points per game, while being one of nine players to average 38.0 or more minutes per game.

UCLA comes in as the No. 5 seed and is 8-6 all-time in this event under current coach Ben Howland.  The Bruins finished the regular season with two impressive wins over the Washington schools, including a 75-69 win over the Huskies as five-point home favorites last time out.  “I’m proud of the way the team played,” commented Howland.  The program is 1-1 when facing USC in the Pac-12 tournament, while No. 5 seeds are just 6-13 overall in the event.  UCLA is 12-6 ATS versus conference foes and the “over” is 11-7 in those contests.

The Bruins are certainly confident in their ability to make a run in this event, especially due to capturing two double-digit wins over the Trojans in their earlier meetings this year.  UCLA will look to jump out to a significant lead against a lesser talented foe in hopes of resting its starters in hopes of playing four games in four days and earning a bid to next week’s NCAA Tournament.

Bettors will likely back the Bruins due to their 4-0-1 ATS mark as a favorite of 7.0 to 12.5 points, while the Trojans are 0-5 ATS as an underdog in the same point range.

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