I mentioned in my pick yesterday that I just didn’t think that the UCLA Bruins had the talent to hang with the much more talented Trojans of USC. And while I think that new Bruins head coach Mick Cronin is absolutely the guy to get things turned around at UCLA, until he has a couple of years to bring in his type of guys, he isn’t going to be able to hang with the upper half of the Pac-12. So, I did something I try not to do all that often, and I backed a road team in league play.
FINAL: USC 74, UCLA 63
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) January 12, 2020
And as expected, USC led throughout and coasted to a 74-63 victory. Even without their star player, Onyeka Okongwu, having a good game, he got into foul trouble early and never did get much going, the Trojans still dominated the game. Four guys scored in double-digits for USC, led by senior Nick Rakocevic who had seventeen points and fourteen rebounds.
For the Trojans, it was a big win to get their conference season back on track after getting blown out at Washington last week. For my money, I love the Trojans as a dark horse to compete to win the Pac-12 title this season.
For UCLA, the Bruins have now lost five out of their last six games, with the win over Washington really starting to look like a complete fluke. We will stay right here in the Pac-12 for today’s daily betting pick, as we head to Corvallis, Oregon, where the Oregon State Beavers host the Arizona Wildcats.
- Arizona Wildcats (11-4) at Oregon State Beavers (11-4)
- Gill Coliseum, Corvallis
- 7:00 PM PST
- TV: FS1
We talked above about USC being a sleeper team in the Pac-12, well the Arizona Wildcats are on the other end of the spectrum as they are the co-favorites to win the league along with the Oregon Ducks. They will look to rebound from their last game when they lost in Oregon against the Ducks, tonight, against the Beavers of Oregon State. The Cats have all of the sudden lost four out of their last six games and need to find a way to pick up a big road win in league play tonight.
For the Beavers, they are hoping they too can turn around a recent skid as they have lost three out of their last five, including to Arizona State at home in their last game. They did manage to pick up a huge win, at Colorado last Sunday, and are looking to break through for a trip to the NCAA tournament this year, something that has mostly eluded the program, as they have made the Big Dance just one time since 1990, coming in 2016.
This Wildcats team is undeniably talented, but they are also struggling right now. After starting out 9-0, they have lost four out of their last six games. To be fair, they have played some really good teams as the three of those losses have come to Baylor, Gonzaga, and Oregon and all of those teams are likely going to be in the top ten of the AP Poll when it comes out tomorrow, with Gonzaga and Baylor probably being one and two.
GAME DAY INFO ?
— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) January 12, 2020
But losses are losses, and this team needs to get it turned around ASAP if they want to have a real shot at competing with Oregon for the Pac-12 regular-season title. What has been one major red flag for Arizona has been the fact that they have played basically all of their games at home. The Cats are 8-1 at home, and 3-0 in neutral site games close to home in Los Angeles.
In true road games, the Wildcats are 0-2, with losses to Oregon and Baylor. Now I am not going to try and say that Oregon State is on the same level as Oregon or Baylor but winning on the road in college basketball is very difficult, especially in league play, and Arizona has yet to do that this season.
Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State has shown flashes of being really good this year. Like when they beat Iowa State in November and knocked off Colorado last week. But for the most part, many of their wins have come against inferior competition. Outside of those two wins, they don’t have another win over a top-100 team, and just one win over a team in the top-200 and that came against #150 UC Santa Barbara.
But what they do have is one of the best players in the Pac-12 in Tres Tinkle. Tinkle is a fifth-year senior that has started his entire career for the Beavers. This season, he is averaging twenty points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals a game. Tinkle has a big body at 6’7” 225 pounds and can stretch the floor and shoot the ball from three, as well as take the ball inside and get to the rim. If the Beavers have any shot of upsetting Arizona tonight, it will be because Tinkle has a big game.
Who Do I Like?
I smell upset tonight in Corvallis. You really can’t argue the fact that Arizona has much more talent, they do. But I think the Beavers have caught them at the perfect time for an upset. The Cats have struggled recently, particularly the three-point shooting of their freshman sensation Nico Manion.
Manion is a high-volume shooter from three, as he takes nearly five a game, and in the last seven games, he has shot just 8-33 from beyond the arc, which is just 21%. He has made one or fewer threes in six of those seven games, and the Wildcats have lost four times. If he jacks up a bunch of ill-advised threes tonight and can’t hit any, the Wildcats are going to struggle as he is the second-leading scorer on the team.
I am taking the points and backing the home team. The late-night betting sharps all took Oregon State as well, but as the heavy ticket count from the public has come in on Arizona today, the number has mostly stayed put. I do see some -4.5 and -4’s floating around, so I will lock this one in at Oregon State +5 while I still can.
I am not 100% confident that they pull off the huge upset, but I do think this game will be very competitive. Oregon State historically has always protected their home floor from an against the spread point of view, even when they aren’t any good. This is the best team they have had in a generation, and I expect their best effort tonight. Give me the Oregon State Beavers +5 points tonight at home!