NCAAM Pick December 1, 2020 – USC Trojans at BYU Cougars

Yesterday we hit a roadblock when we backed the Boston College Eagles against the St. John’s Red Storm. I expected the game to be tightly contested and leaned towards the Eagles getting the job done in what was sure to be a close contest. So, I backed the Eagles laying -1-point and hoped that the variance would break my way.

After a hot start by St. John’s that saw the Red Storm take a double-digit halftime lead, the Eagles came roaring back in the second half. The Eagles trailed by 14-points with three minutes left to play in the game, and it looked like we had a sure loser on our hands. But in true St. John’s fashion, they allowed BC to close the gap in a hurry, cutting the lead to just one point with 30 seconds left to play.

But unfortunately for use, the Johnnies were able to hang on in those final seconds and avoid the collapse, and we picked up a rare loss. Looking back on the game, you wonder what would have happened had the Eagles not turned the ball over 19 times in the game.

What can you do, we had a shot at winning our bet late, and the ball bounced the other direction. It is going to happen in college hoops, but as long as you are doing your homework and backing the value side of all of your plays, you are going to be a long-term winner. With the loss, our winning percentage on the season on college basketball drops to a still impressive 64%. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head back to Bubbleville for a west coast matchup between BYU and USC.

Today’s Game

  • USC Trojans (2-0) at BYU Cougars (3-0)
  • Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, Connecticut
  • 11:30 AM PST
  • TV: ESPN

The Legends Classic kicks off today in Bubbleville, as the USC Trojans and the BYU Cougars square off in a first-round matchup. Both of these teams are hoping to be dancing in March, but both teams are also trying to figure out life without some of their best players, as they both lost key pieces from last year. The Trojans are without Oneyka Okongwu and Nick Rakoevic, but they are still 2-0 to start the year, and are looking to finish in the top half of a crowded PAC-12 conference this season.

For BYU, the Cougars lost Yoeli Childs, Jake Toolson, and TJ Haws, but it hasn’t slowed them down much yet, as they are 3-0 and looking like a quality basketball team despite the heavy loss in talent. The Cougars have a completely rehauled roster, filled with mostly transfers, and BYU fans are hoping that the new look Cougars can compete with Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference.


  • BYU Cougars (-3.5)
  • USC Trojans (+3.5)
Money line:

  • BYU Cougars (-157)
  • USC Trojans (+133)
Total Points:

  • Over 140.5 (-110)
  • Under 140.5 (-110)

USC Trojans (2-0)

Evan Mobley is an absolute superstar in the making at USC. If you don’t know, now you know. Mobley is next in the long line of future NBA draft lottery picks to play for the Trojans, and this kid has shown athleticism that we rarely see from a man of his size. Mobley comes in at 7-foot tall but can move like a guard and isn’t scared to shoot the ball away from the basket either.

Evan is paired with his big brother Isiah, to give the Trojans a devastating duo in the post. Both of these kids have size, and both are only going to get better as the season wears on, as they are still so young. This roster lost a lot from last year, but with blue-chip talent like the Mobley brothers maturing by the minute, USC could be scary good by the end of the year.

BYU Cougars (3-0)

No team, with the exception of maybe the Kentucky Wildcats, lost more talent than the BYU Cougars did last year. They lost five seniors from a team that was a dark horse Final Four pick last year before the tournament got canceled. Expectations were all over the place on BYU coming into this season, as there are a lot of new faces in Provo.

The big addition, literally, is Purdue transfer Matt Haarms. Haarms comes in 7-3 and 250 pounds. Despite his stature, Haarms was never quite as dominating in the post as they had hoped he would be at Purdue, but with a change of scenery, BYU hopes that he can fill the shoes of Childs, who was a monster in the paint for the Cougars. All told, BYU brought in five transfers this year, with all of those expecting to get playing time right away.

Who Do I Like?

This line opened up at USC -1-point. That seemed like a reasonable number as the Trojans have more talent than BYU, and while they do have a lot of new faces on the roster, they didn’t completely flip the lineup over like BYU did. So, for an early-season matchup, that number made a lot of sense. The data backed up the Trojans as favorites as kenpom has the Trojans at -3-points in this matchup.

But the public sure hasn’t seen it that way, as they are pounding BYU. The line has moved a whopping four and a half points to where it stands now at BYU -3.5. That is an enormous line move for a college hoops game on December 1st. To see a 7-point gap between kenpom and the current line shows outrageous value.

The Bet

I’ll be honest here, when I saw this game on the schedule before the line was posted, my thought was that USC was going to be favored and that BYU might be a sexy upset pick. With the opening line a tight one, and I wasn’t able to get the 3-4 points I was hoping for, so I planned on staying away. But the public has forced my hand in this one. With a four-point line move and a seven-point gap from kenpom, I have no choice but to fade the public and fire on the Trojans.

To be able to get more than a full possessions worth of points on USC is a great spot. Matt Haarms is a huge human, but he is going to get eaten alive by Evan Mobley in this game. The Cougars won 24-games last season, powered by an explosive and efficient offense. But this year, despite playing the likes of Westminster, New Orleans, and Utah Valley, all really bad teams, their offense is only ranked in the ’70s right now. Nothing like that 7th they finished last year in offensive efficiency.

I don’t have an overly strong opinion on how this game plays out. This is just a classic case of looking at the data and numbers and getting on the other side of the generally ignorant betting public. When you are betting college basketball, it is less about the game and more about the price. And if the price is right, you must fire! Give me the USC Trojans today, getting +3.5-points against the BYU Cougars!

The Bet: USC Trojans +3.5

My Pick
USC Trojans +3.5
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL