USC Trojans at UCLA Bruins NCAAM Pick – January 11th

We were able to pick up the holy trifecta last night. I got to bet against the public, back a home underdog in league play, and cash a winning ticket! My favorite play of the year so far has been backing home underdogs in Big -10 conference games. Heading into yesterday’s bet, where we backed the Iowa Hawkeyes at home against the Maryland Terrapins, I hadn’t lost a single bet on a home dog in Big-10 action this season, in nearly a dozen bets.

To make the bet even more juicy, the public pushed the number towards Maryland, so not only did I get to make one of my favorite plays, I got to fade the public and get a better number than I deserved. And when Iowa dominated the game, eventually blowing out the Terrapins by eighteen points, I just sat back, smiled, and collected my money.

With the win, we ran our weekly record to 8-1, that is nearly 90% winners as conference play continues to be very good to us. For today’s bet, we will head out west, where the UCLA Bruins host the USC Trojans in a Pac-12 conference game.

Today’s Game

  • USC Trojans (12-3) at UCLA Bruins (7-6)
  • Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles
  • 7:00 PM PST
  • TV: ESPN2

The UCLA Bruins are looking to pick up their second Pac-12 win of the year tonight as they host their crosstown rivals, the USC Trojans. The Bruins have had a tough year, as they are barely on the right side of .500 at 7-6, and they have just won win over the top-100. While many of their losses have come against decent teams, losses to Washington State, Hofstra, and Cal State-Fullerton were bad ones.

For the Trojans, they are looking to rebound from a blowout loss to Washington earlier this week. USC has early-season wins over top-100 teams like Nevada, Harvard, TCU, and LSU. If the Trojans are going to be able to compete to finish near the top of the Pac-12 this season, something they certainly feel that they have the talent to do, they need to find ways to win road games like this one against struggling teams.

Spread:

  • USC +1.5 (-110)
  • UCLA -1.5 (-110)
Money line:

  • USC +105
  • UCLA -125
Total Points:

  • Over 139.5 (-110)
  • Under 139.5 (-110)

USC Trojans

When Pac-12 play kicked off a couple of weeks back, the USC Trojans were a sexy sleeper pick to contend for the regular season league title. We all know how good Arizona and Oregon are, and even Colorado and Stanford were considered legit contenders, but USC was just a half step behind, but had the talent to contend if they could get their acts together.

They started league play by winning on the road at WSU, but then followed it up with a deflating performance in Seattle, against the Washington Huskies. Nothing went right for the Trojans in that one, and they got blown out. And while that isn’t a bad loss, Washington has two lottery picks on their roster, and kenpom has them inside of the top-50 right now, it was how they lost that made me wonder if this team really has a shot to compete in the top tier of the league this season.

UCLA Bruins

This is a rebuilding year for the Bruins. New head coach Mick Cronin turned Cincinnati into a perennial contender, and I think he is the right guy to return UCLA to their former greatness. But sometimes it’s not all about the x’s and o’s, it’s more about Jimmy’s and Joe’s, and Cronin just doesn’t have the bodies right now.

Cronin is a major divergence from former Bruns head coach Steve Alford, in that Alford was all about up-tempo, fast paced run and gun offense. Where Cronin likes to slow things down and control the ball on the defensive side of the court. So, this year, he is forced to play his brand of ball, with Alford’s type of players, and the results haven’t been pretty.

Pauley Pavilion used to be the most feared building in the country for opposing teams. This year, the Bruins have home losses to Hofstra and Cal State-Fullerton, teams ranked at #142 and #248 respectively. They don’t have a single home win over a top-100 team, with the best home floor win of the season for UCLA coming against #132 UC Santa Barbara.

Who Do I Like?

As a general rule, I am all about backing home teams in league play. All other things being equal, the home team is going to find a way to win the game more times than not. But in this game, all things are not equal.

The talent gap between these two teams right now is large. USC has a first-round talent in freshman Onyeka Okongwu, and seniors Jonah Mathews and Nick Rakocevic are both four years starters that could end up playing at the next level. The Trojans have acquitted themselves well away from home this year as they beat Nevada and WSU in true road games, and they beat TCU in Fort Worth.

The Bet

USC coming out flat in their last game against Washington does scare me a little bit, but I still think the Trojans are the far superior team in this matchup talent wise. And with UCLA doing a terrible job of protecting their home court this season, I won’t let the fact that this game is being played at Pauley Pavilion scare me away from backing the better team and getting points.

Once again, the public gives us a little relief as this line opened up at UCLA -1, and we picked up an extra half of a point as the line now stands at UCLA -1.5. It certainly isn’t a major difference, but when you are taking a road team in league play, you will take everything that you can get. Give me the USC Trojans tonight, getting a point and a half at UCLA!

The Bet: USC +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