NCAAM Pick December 13, 2020 – Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans

Well, I guess every once in a while, the public has to get one right. Yesterday the public was all over Clemson in their game with the Alabama Crimson Tide. They shifted the line sharply towards the Tigers, and I felt that being able to back the Tide as +2.5-point underdogs on a neutral floor was a nice spot. And with less than 6-minutes left in the second half, with the Tide leading 55-54, it seemed like we were certainly on the right side of the action.

But unfortunately for us, the Tigers caught fire late in the game, and Alabama went ice cold. Clemson closed out the game on a 10-1 run, and what was looking like an easy cover and potential outright upset victory by Alabama, was spoiled. Despite forcing 21-turnovers, including a whopping 17 steals, Alabama wasn’t able to cover, as they shot just 30.5% from the field as a team.

It was a frustrating way to lose a bet as Alabama had all of the momentum heading into the final stretch of the game and just completely fell apart. What can you do? Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce our way late, the variance kicks in, and we lose a bet that we likely should have won. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will shake off the run bad and head out west where the USC Trojans host the Stanford Cardinal in a PAC-12 league game.

Today’s Game

  • Stanford Cardinal (2-2) at USC Trojans (4-1)
  • Galen Center, Los Angeles
  • 6:30 PM PST
  • TV: FS1

The PAC-12 jumps into league play tonight, as the USC Trojans host the Stanford Cardinal in the conference play opener for both teams. The Trojans are off to a hot start at 4-1 and have a quality win over BYU on their resume. The PAC-12 seems to be wide open this year, with Oregon, ASU, UCLA, USC, and Stanford all looking like teams that could take home the regular-season league title. USC knows they need to take care of business at home if they want any shot at contending for the conference championship.

For Stanford, the Cardinal came into the season with heavy expectations, but they haven’t played well, as they are just 2-2. Both of their losses came to top-25 teams in North Carolina and Indiana, but at the end of the day, if Stanford wants to be a second weekend or better team in the NCAA tournament, they are going to need to find a way to beat good teams. Stanford does have a top-50 win on their resume, though, knocking off Alabama in their season opener on a neutral floor.

Spread:

  • USC Trojans (-1.5)
  • Stanford Cardinal (+1.5)
Money line:

  • USC Trojans (-120)
  • Stanford Cardinal (+110)
Total Points:

  • Over 135 (-110)
  • Under 135 (-110)

USC Trojans (4-1)

The USC Trojans have so many new players this season, nobody was quite sure of what to expect out of them. But now that we have seen the final product on the floor, they are quite impressive. Evan Mobley gets a lot of the headlines, and the kid looks every bit as good as advertised and seems to be a lock to be a lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft. Evan and his older brother Isaiah are dominating in the paint, as both guys are close to averaging a double-double.

Evan is going for a team-high 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Isaiah is scoring 9.4 points per game and leads the team with 9.2 rebounds per contest. Drew Peterson is a transfer from Rice and has been great with his new team, scoring 12 points game and is shooting an absolutely absurd 55.6% from deep. Tahj Eaddy is quickly becoming one of the most feared shooters in the league as he has already made a whopping 20 three-pointers, knocking them down at a 45% rate.

Stanford Cardinal (2-2)

The sluggish start to the season for Stanford can be mostly attributed to their inefficient play on offense. The Cardinals have not played well, and they just aren’t scoring the basketball at a high rate. They are shooting just 42% from the field as a team, and their 71 points a game average is 197th in the nation. They really struggle to share and take care of the ball as well, as they are a dismal 227th in the country in assist to turnover ratio.

But even with as bad as the offense has been, this Stanford team can absolutely play defense. The Cardinal are ranked 7th in terms of defensive efficiency per kenpom, and they are holding teams to just 24% shooting from three-point land. They force a lot of turnovers, and they make teams fight for every bucket. If they can ever get things figured out on the offensive side of the basketball, the Cardinal could be a real threat to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Who Do I Like?

I like USC in this game. These teams are both similarly ranked, and I see both of them playing in the NCAA tournament this year. But in league games, I am always going to lean towards the home team when everything else is equal. One big reason I like the Trojans in this game is their ability to score in the paint and get to the free-throw line.

The Cardinals are elite at perimeter defense, but they are just average when it comes to allowing points in the paint. USC has the shooters to draw the Cardinal defense to the wings, and if Stanford can’t find a way to guard both of the Mobley boys down low, they are going to torch them with easy buckets. If they decide to clamp down on the bigs, that leaves the Trojan sharpshooters open outside, and USC has four players shooting north of 43% from three, so they can absolutely hurt you if you don’t get a hand up in their face.

The Bet

I don’t think Stanford has the bodies to match up with USC down low. I see the Mobley brothers getting way too many good looks from the paint and getting a lot of easy buckets. The Cardinals play hard-nosed defense, but I still see USC scoring at a high rate. And if that ends up being the case, I just don’t see how Stanford is going to be able to hang with them.

The Cardinal play ugly offense, and they aren’t going to be able to go hoop for hoop with USC. The only route they have to win this game is by shutting down the USC offensive attack, and I don’t see that happening. Evan Mobley is shooting 61% from the field, and I think he has a huge game tonight and leads his team to victory. Give me the USC Trojans tonight, laying a point and a half, as they win and cover in what should be a physical and hard-fought game!

The Bet: USC Trojans -1.5

My Pick
USC Trojans -1.5
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