Our solid week continued last night as we picked up another win, our fourth win in six games this week when we backed the TCU Horned Frogs at home against the Texas Longhorns. In my eyes, this was a very evenly matched game between two teams that had been struggling as of late, so I took the home team and figured that the home court advantage would be enough to push this one towards TCU. And it was.
The game was a tight one throughout, and both teams played hard. But in the end, it came down to two major keys for TCU. They dominated the boards, outrebounding Texas 42-33, and especially outplayed the Longhorns on the offensive glass where they ripped down fourteen offensive boards. And turnovers. The Horned Frogs forced seventeen Texas turnovers. They took advantage of all those extra opportunities and were able to fend off the Longhorns late push and held on for the win and cover.
With the win, the Horned Frogs have officially established themselves as a threat in the Big 12. Yeah, they are only 3-3 in league play, but the first place Kansas Jayhawks are just 5-2, so they trail by only one game in the loss column. Do I think the Horned Frogs are going to win the Big 12 title this season? No, I don’t. But I do think this is absolutely a tournament level team that is going win their fair share of games the rest of the way out.
For Texas, they continue to struggle to stay consistent and are the epitome of a bubble team right now. We have seen them beat elite competition and we have seen them come out flat and struggle against bad teams. My heart tells me that at some point Shaka Smart will get these guys playing well and go on a run, but as it sits right now, these guys have lost four out of their last five games and are in desperate need of a spark. For today’s pick, we will head out west to take a look at the game between the Arizona Wildcats and the USC Trojans.
The USC Trojans play host tonight to the Arizona Wildcats in a PAC-12 battle. The Trojans are trying to keep their heads above water in the PAC-12 this season as they are 3-2 in league play. USC played a very aggressive non-conference schedule and struggled to stay competitive and they have a very mediocre 10-8 record to show for it. They need to pick up some big resume-building wins ASAP if they want any shot of playing meaningful games in March.
For the Wildcats, they came into the season with limited expectations as they lost a lot of talent from last year’s team and were expected to rebuild this year. Despite the low expectations, the Wildcats have impressed so far as they have a 14-5 record and are in second place in the PAC-12 standings. This game is an even pick ‘em right now as the number has been bouncing back and forth all morning long, with both teams being small favorites at some point. The game total over-under is set at 143.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from the Galen Center in Los Angeles.
The USC Trojans should be better than this. They feature two very legit NBA level players in Bennie Boatwright and Nick Rakocevic. Yet, they have really struggled against good teams this year. You have to give them credit, they have played a very tough schedule, but they haven’t beaten a single good team yet this season despite having ample opportunity. Losses to Texas Tech, Nevada, TCU, and Oklahoma, won’t look all that bad at the end of the season, but you don’t get into the NCAA tournament by losing to good teams, you have to beat some of them. And the Trojans just haven’t been able to do that this year. The biggest win of the year for USC was in their last game against UCLA, and the Bruins are just 10-8 and looking like a team that is going to get left out of the party come March Madness.
The Arizona Wildcats are in a very similar position as the Trojans are right now. They have played a decent schedule of teams, but for the most part, they haven’t beaten any of the good teams on their schedule. Like USC, losses to Gonzaga, Auburn, Alabama, and Baylor aren’t bad ones, but to get into the tournament you need some big wins, and right now the Wildcats just don’t have many. The win over Iowa State is an ok one, as is the win over UCONN, and they are playing well in the PAC-12, but it’s looking like the Wildcats are going to try and build their resume with quantity over quality as far as wins are concerned, and that means tonight’s game is a big one.
Look, the PAC-12 is a joke this year. It is as bad as I ever remember it being right now. But, by the end of the year, these teams are going to beat each other up enough to build up two or three teams that will make the tournament. Washington seems like a tournament team, as does Arizona State. And I suspicion one or two of the middle of the pack PAC-12 teams will win enough to sneak into the tournament. Teams like USC, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon State, or Oregon, one of these teams is going to get their act together and go dancing. And I think it’s the Arizona Wildcats.
Sean Miller is just too good of a coach to miss out on all the fun, and I think the Wildcats eventually challenge Washington for the PAC-12 title this year. In a league that is completely up for grabs, I will back the team with the best coach, and the is Arizona. I expect tonight’s game to be a close one, and I hate to bet on road teams in league play, but I feel that the Wildcats will sneak out of LA with the win tonight. Give me the Arizona Wildcats at an even pick ‘em tonight from the Galen Center!