USC Trojans vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs – Elite Eight March 30

NCAA Tournament Elite Eight – West Regional

(1) No. 1 Gonzaga (29-0, 15-0) vs. (6) USC (25-7, 15-5)

  • Time: 4:15PM PST | 6:15PM CST | 7:15PM EST
  • Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
  • TV: TBS

Opening Tip

The long-anticipated matchup is finally here as the USC Trojans and the Gonzaga Bulldogs meet for a berth in the Final Four. Incredibly, this is only the third meeting in history as the others were in 1991 and 1992 as USC won both games.

It’s the Trojans’ fourth Elite Eight in school history while the Bulldogs have been the gold standard on the west coast in the last few years as they have tallied 11 appearances in the Sweet 16, five in the Elite Eight, a Final Four, and a national title game appearance.

USC has won six out of its last seven while outscoring Drake, Kansas, and Oregon by a combined margin of 79.7-58.4. The Trojans are currently 5-2 in the NCAA Tournament under coach Andy Enfield as those five wins are the most by a USC head coach.

Gonzaga keeps scoring and converting at a consistently high clip as they have spanked Norfolk State, Oklahoma and Creighton by a combined margin of 89.7-63.7. The Bulldogs have won an NCAA D-1 record 29 games in a row by double digits and 31 of their last 33 as well.

Vs. The Spread

USC:

  • The Trojans are 12-1 SU in their last 3 games vs. WCC competition
  • USC is 9-4 ATS in it’s last 13 games when playing as an underdog
  • The Trojans are 19-13 ATS this season and are 2-3 as an underdog

Gonzaga:

  • The OVER has been the call in 7 of the last 10 Bulldogs’ games
  • Gonzaga is 9-0 SU against the last 9 Pac-12 opponents
  • The Bulldogs are 15-12-2 ATS this season and have covered in 4 of the last 5

Last Time Out

Isaiah White scored 22 points as he made three triples and Tahj Eaddy added 20 as USC defeated Pac-12 rival Oregon, 82-68, to advance to the Elite Eight. USC took the lead for good at 21-19 and ballooned it to 41-26 at halftime as it closed the first half on a 20-7 run and was never threatened in the second half. Isaiah Mobley added 13 points and six boards while Evan Mobley had 10 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.

Gonzaga rolled over Creighton, 83-65, on Sunday as well as the Zags shot 59.6 percent from the floor which was the second-best shooting percentage in Gonzaga’s history for a game. Gonzaga assisted 23 of 34 baskets as the shooting and sharing of the ball have them with the best offensive efficiency rating, 126.4, according to kenpom.com. Drew Timme led with 22 points while Andrew Nembhard popped in 17 points and eight assists.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
USC +8.5 (-110) +360 O 153 (-110)
Gonzaga -8.5 (-110) -450 U 153 (-110)

Advantage, USC

USC Trojans LogoThis matchup is billed as a lockdown Trojans defense against the most free-flowing offense in recent memory which is the centerpiece of the Gonzaga attack. Evan Mobley’s matchup with Drew Timme will be a tell-all in how this game plays out. Mobley has blocked 95 shots while Timme shoots 65.7 percent from the field. USC’s defense is sixth in the nation in effective defensive field goal percentage while the Gonzaga offense is first in effective offensive field goal percentage, per kenpom. USC can win this game with how it uses its defense to set up the offense.

Isaiah White and Tahj Eaddy were magnificent vs. Oregon and their output allowed Evan and Isaiah Mobley to get involved in many more aspects of the games. The Trojans only allow opponents to shoot 41.5 percent (1st/NCAA) from inside the arc while Gonzaga shoots 63.9 from inside the arc (1st/NCAA).

Key Trojans Stat:

This Trojans’ defense allows opponents to shoot only 38.6 percent from the field (4th/NCAA), but they only accumulate 11.7 turnovers per game. When you have a shot blocker like Evan Mobley, it changes your approach on how you defend the perimeter because his mere presence makes offenses play deeper into the shot clock.

X-Factor:

When talking SC, don’t forget about the offense as the Trojans led the Pac-12 with a 75.2 points per game average as well as a (+10.8) turnover margin. Isaiah White was brought in as a defender, but he has averaged 17.5 points in his last two games and is now another option for opponents to worry about on their game plans.

Advantage, Gonzaga

Gonzaga Bulldogs LogoThe weaponry of this offense makes it a beautiful thing to watch. Coach Mark Few will need all of his players firing on all cylinders in order to win this game. Leading scorer Corey Kispert (19.0 ppg) struggled vs. Creighton as he scored only 12 points in 34 minutes. Look for him to come out strong in looking for his shot and trying to establish a rhythm early. If he does, this makes the Evan Mobley-Drew Timme matchup even more of an issue as USC can only give so much help off of Kispert, Jalen Suggs, Joel Ayayi, and Andrew Nembhard, who came over from Florida and has taken his game to another level.

Key Bulldogs Stat:

The explosiveness of the Bulldogs offense has been legendary this season. They lead the nation in the following categories:

  • Scoring offense – 91.8 ppg
  • Field goal percentage – 55.1%
  • 2-point percentage – 63.9%
  • Points in the paint – 49.5 ppg

X-Factor:

USC’s defense plays at a pace of 18.3 seconds per possession (338th/NCAA) while Gonzaga’s offense is third in pace at 14.2 seconds per possession. Jalen Suggs orchestrates this type of speed on the point. Watch him on defense as well as he has accrued 53 of the Zags’ 236 steals.

Winner: Gonzaga 82, USC (+8.5) 76

The Bets
USC Trojans +8.5
-110
Gonzaga Bulldogs
-450
OVER 153
-110
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.

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