USC has earned a spot on the NCAA Tournament bubble

USC's Daniel Utomi passes away from Oregon State's Kylor Kelley (24) and Tres Tinkle on Saturday in Corvallis.
(Amanda Loman / Associated Press)

USC earned a lot of market (and national) respect with a big weekend in Oregon. What looks like a 1-1 split in the standings was actually a huge performance against market expectations.

The Trojans (+9.5) took No. 12 Oregon to overtime before losing 79-70. That’s 9.5 points better than projected in regulation, although bettors had to sweat the overtime.

Also, USC (+3.5) crushed Oregon State 75-55 in a game in which it could have been flat after a heartbreaking loss. You can tell the market expected a drained performance making the Trojans 3.5-point underdogs. Home court advantage by itself is usually worth about three points in college basketball. Oregon State had just lost to inconsistent UCLA two nights earlier.

Members of the selection committee may not study point-spread performances, but USC taking Oregon to overtime on the road would have to be considered a good loss however you slice it. Following that with a road rout is icing on the cake.

When figuring out who to bet, try to determine which player is a difference maker and which coach is most likely to blow the game.

Bettors know that USC is 5-0 against the spread since a bad loss at Washington. That includes a 74-63 win over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion as a small underdog.

This recent run has placed the Trojans firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Usually about the top 50 in respected computer rankings earn invitations, with the rest going to much-lower ranked auto-bids for smaller conferences.

Here’s a quick peek at national computer rankings entering the new week for those interested in evaluating upcoming schedule strengths and the conference race:


— Ken Pomeroy ( Arizona 12, Oregon 16, Colorado 19, Stanford 37, Washington 46, USC 51, Arizona State 79, Oregon State 97, Utah 113, Washington State 130, UCLA 133, California 181.

— Jeff Sagarin (USA Today): Oregon 17, Arizona 21, Colorado 25, Stanford 48, USC 50, Arizona State 62, Washington 65, Utah 82, Oregon State 105, UCLA 119, Washington State 133, California 184.

— ESPN’s BPI: Arizona 7, Oregon 13, Colorado 31, USC 49, Stanford 56, Washington 72, Arizona State 82, Oregon State 96, Utah 117, Washington State 136, UCLA 138, California 198.

USC’s average ranking is 50, within a very tight 49-51 range. UCLA remains way off the postseason radar despite upsetting Oregon State Thursday as 8.5-point underdogs. More notice was taken of Sunday’s 96-75 loss at Oregon as 12-point underdogs.

Freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu scored 18 points and threw down several highlight-reel dunks in USC’s 75-55 win at Oregon State.

USC and UCLA will host Utah and Colorado this week. Thursday, it’s Colorado at UCLA and Utah at USC. Saturday is Colorado at USC and Sunday is Utah at UCLA.

A few point-spread performance notes from the Pac 12:

— Best Against the Spread: Stanford 13-6, Oregon 13-8, USC 12-8.

— Worst Against the Spread: California 7-12, Washington State 8-12-1.

— Going “Over” the total: Oregon 14-6-1, Oregon State 13-7.

— Staying “Under” the total: Stanford 12-5-2, USC 13-7, Arizona State 12-7, Washington State 12-8-1.

Jeff Fogle writes for VSiN, the sports betting network.