You will very rarely hear me complain about bad beats. When you bet basketball as much as I do, it is just part of the game. But last night’s bad beat just might stick with me for a while. When you nail just about everything about a pick, but still come up short, it can be quite frustrating. And that is exactly what happened last night when we backed the San Francisco Dons as big home underdogs against the top five ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs.
I figured that this road test would be the biggest of the conference season for Gonzaga, and if they were ever going to struggle, it would be on the road against the upstart Dons. So, I took the ten points and figured that the Dons would be able to keep the game close enough to cover. And when I look at the scoreboard with under four minutes left to play and saw that the Dons were leading 81-79, I figured the bet was all but locked up.
But the Zags aren’t a top-five team in the country for nothing, and they went on a furious run to close out the game, and not only did they regain the lead from the Dons, they somehow found a way to cover the outsized ten-point line. Gonzaga finished the game on a 15-2 run to crush our dreams. Even with their struggles, things are looking up for Gonzaga as Killian Tullie is starting to get worked into the rotation more after missing the entire non-conference season with an injury. Tillie scored a very efficient fourteen points of six of seven shooting and added in six boards, three dimes, and three blocks as well off the bench for the Zags. Getting Tillie back to his pre-injury form is a major key for the Zags national title hopes.
For the Dons, they are certainly going to be upset that they let a chance to pick up a huge resume-building win slip through their hands at home, but even in the loss, the Dons showed me that they are a team that needs to be feared. San Francisco never backed down, and this team is going to win a lot of games in the WCC this year. For today’s pick, we will stay out west and take a look at the game between the Oregon Ducks and the USC Trojans.
The Oregon Ducks welcome the USC Trojans to Eugene tonight for a PAC-12 matchup. The Ducks have been reeling since the loss of superstar freshman Bol Bol to a season-ending injury and have lost three out of their last four games. What was once a promising season is quickly looking like its going to end in disappointment as they are fading out of contention in the PAC-12.
For the Trojans, they had their four-game winning streak snapped by Oregon State in their last game and badly need to pick up the win tonight if they want to keep their NCAA tournament dreams alive. The Ducks are -4-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 138 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST from Mathew Knight Arena in Eugene.
Coming into this season, the Oregon Ducks were my pick to win the PAC-12. They had the number four recruiting class in the country, and three players that should have been legit superstars in Bol, Pritchard, and King. And to be fair, Bol played the superstar role well before going down with an injury as he averaged 21 and 10 in nine games for the Ducks. But he is gone now, and the Ducks haven’t been able to replace his production. Pritchard came into this season as a sexy pick for PAC-12 player of the year but has seen his scoring and rebounding decrease, and his three-point shooting fell off a cliff, dropping from 42% last year to just 30% this year.
That brings us to Louis King. King was a five-star recruit, and most expect him to be taken in the lottery in next year’s NBA draft, but with how he is performing right now, I just don’t see it. King is averaging just eight points a game on the year. And that includes his career high twenty-two-point outburst in his last game against UCLA. You would think at some point that this kid is too talented to struggle for too long, but right now, he just isn’t getting the job done for Oregon.
The USC Trojans have three legit NBA caliber players on their roster. They should be better than they are playing right now. The Trojans had a rough non-conference, but to be fair to the boys from Troy, they did play a very formidable non-conference slate. It looked like they might have started to turn things around in league play as they started out 2-0 with wins over Cal and Stanford, but the Trojans went back to disappointing in their last game, a loss at Oregon State.
The Trojans can’t win on the road, and the Ducks can’t win at home. Something is going to have to give tonight when these two teams matchup in Eugene. Since losing Bol, the Ducks have looked completely lost, and at this point, I see them missing the NCAA tournament. Which is quite shocking as many people had this team projected in the top ten nationally coming into the season. But without Bol on the floor and Pritchard and King both struggling, this team is really playing poorly.
I think the Trojans just have too much talent to be denied in this one. The Ducks won’t have an answer for the monster in the middle, 6-11 Nick Rakocevic, who is averaging a double-double on the year. I hate backing road team in league play, but that is what I am going to do tonight. Give me the USC Trojans and the +4-points tonight in Oregon!