Arizona State vs. USC NCAA Basketball Pick – Jan 7th

We finally got a relatively calm night in college basketball with most favorites avoiding the upset epidemic that has been sweeping the nation. Duke handled Wake Forest and Pitt handled Georgia Tech, guiding two ACC teams to safe harbor. Villanova, Xavier, Dayton and Maryland all won with a little room to spare (though X was pushed hard by St. John’s – who is, um, less-than-good), while Iowa State and Texas A&M survived tough upset bids by Texas Tech and Mississippi State. The only heavy favorite to get popped was George Washington, they of the season-opening win over Virginia and 12-2 record, who got dropped by a 5-8 St. Louis team that is a shell of the NCAA tournament #4 seed of just a few years ago.

Last night’s relative calm aside, it has already been an insane year in college hoops, and I doubt it will slow anytime soon now that conference play is well underway. There are some good games on the docket tonight; Michigan (who has quietly crept back to 12-3) at Purdue, Cincinnati at unbeaten SMU, and Arizona vs. UCLA highlight the schedule.

We lost narrowly on Davidson covering against Duquesne last night to snap our five game NCAA ATS run. Let’s start a new winning streak tonight.

Today’s Free Pick:

Arizona State Sun Devils at USC Trojans -6.5

Last time we saw Arizona State, Bobby Hurley was in the midst of an epic meltdown, resulting his ejection against Arizona and contributing to a misleading score line. Arizona won by 12, but the game was close until the final minutes when Hurley gave the Wildcats four hundred (roughly) free throws. The point is, the Sun Devils were in it. They’d won seven of eight prior with the only loss coming at Kentucky and wins at UNLV and over Texas A&M and Creighton. Hurley has already proven to give an immediate boost to teams (see: Buffalo last year) and appears to have the Sun Devls ready to contend to get back to March Madness.

The same improvement is also evident in Southern Cal with Andy Enfield’s Trojans. Widely picked to again be cellar dwellars in the Pac-12, the Trojans enter 12-3 with a win at Washington State and fresh off a collapse in a road loss to Washington 887-85. Their schedule has aided their hot start, as they don’t have a lot of quality wins and the have a loss to Monmouth (who doesn’t) and Xavier – both in games they competed in. This is also a solid ballclub, though I think they are a bottom half of the conference team and will end up with double-digit losses.

I am not sure you can say either team is definitely “better” than the other, but you can say this game is an absolute toss-up.   In that case, I’ll take the six points. I lean Arizona State on a neutral floor, so with a half-dozen in my pocket, it becomes a pretty easy choice. They played to the final minute at Arizona, and USC is no Arizona. Look for tonight to be close throughout.

Free Pick: Arizona State Sun Devils +6.5

Chris Scheeren / Author