Free Picks: USC Trojans vs Oregon Ducks

Oregon vs USC Sweet 16
USC Trojans vs Oregon Ducks, NCAA, Bankers Life Fieldhouse

The No. 6 USC Trojans (24-7, 16-6 Pac 12) and the No. 7 Oregon Ducks (21-6, 15-5 Pac 12) are two fine representations of the Pac 12’s wildly impressive showing at this year’s March Madness tournament. One of their seasons will end Sunday, but both teams have already impressed quite a bit to get to this point. USC is the lower seed and won the regular season battle, but there’s some reason to believe Oregon has the recipe for redemptive success.

Can the Ducks shoot their way past the Trojans?

The Oregon Ducks have two losses since Feb. 4. One was two weeks ago in the Pac 12 tournament semifinal, versus Oregon State (a stunning 12-seed that is also in the Sweet 16). The other was a little over a month ago against the USC Trojans, their upcoming opponent in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

USC and Oregon have both been impressive in recent weeks en route to reaching the vaunted Sweet 16. Here, the Trojans are 2-5-point favorites (-105 at Betway) on the latest NCAA basketball odds; partially because they’re the lower seed, and partially because of what they did to Oregon in that prior matchup back on Feb. 22.

But for our BetPicks prediction, we’re wondering if there’s value in backing the Ducks ahead of Sunday’s 9:45 p.m. ET tip-off. Oregon is certainly not the better defensive team, but their perimeter shooting is truly special — and just might be the key to this game.

Well, it’ll be the key for Oregon if they’re hot from three-point land, at least. The Ducks shot 43.3% from deep during a six-game win streak ahead of the Oregon State loss. They then shot 6-of-25 (24%) from three versus the Beavers, only to turn around and shoot 11-of-25 (44%) from three in last weekend’s defeat of Iowa.

Bottom line: The Ducks will be shootin’ it whether or not it goes in.

And the Trojans hope to be stoppin’ it, with the second-tallest team in NCAA Division I and the fifth-best adjusted defensive efficiency rating. The tricky thing is that USC’s defensive dominance is geared more toward the inside game. The Trojans hold opponents to 41.4% shooting from inside the arc (first in D-I) and they’re fifth in the nation in blocks per game (5.3).

Interestingly, Oregon shot the three-ball well against USC in their last meeting (7-of-17, 41.2%). But the Trojans dominated the glass (plus-13 rebound advantage) and held the Ducks to just 40% shooting from inside the arc.

So there you have it, in our only other look at these teams matching up this season, USC overcame some solid outside shooting by Oregon to still claim the win. We reckon the Ducks will take more than 17 threes on Sunday, but the Trojans have proven they can withstand the air attack.

 

Stats

  • USC is 4-6 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The UNDER has cashed in five of the Trojans’ past nine games
  • Oregon is 6-3 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The OVER has cashed in eight of the Ducks’ past eight games

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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University). You can follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHorrobin

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