USC vs. Oregon: Betting strategies, over-under for Sweet 16 showdown

USC's Drew Peterson chases after a loose ball in front of Isaiah (3) and Evan Mobley (4).
USC’s Drew Peterson chases after a loose ball in front of Isaiah (3) and Evan Mobley (4) during the Trojans’ blowout win over Kansas on Monday.
(Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

No conference has been more of a surprise nationally than the Pac-12. “The Conference of Champions” has four of its five teams in the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16. It will be guaranteed to have at least one team in the Elite 8 as West Region No. 6 seed USC meets up with No. 7 seed Oregon. The two clubs met only once during the regular season as USC, without the services of 6-foot-10 sophomore Isaiah Mobley, stormed out to a 15-0 lead and never looked back for a 72-56 victory on Feb. 22.

Speaking of the elder Mobley brother, he may have provided some bulletin board material to the Ducks last week by saying: “Oregon is a really good team. They’ve been on a roll. I don’t want to say necessarily they got luck because they are a good team. But they stole the Pac-12 championship from us. I think we match up well, though. We both have chips against our shoulders because we beat them, and they got the championship from us.”
Oregon finished with one less win (14-4) than USC (15-5) but earned the regular season championship because of a better winning percentage.

Local AAU basketball team, the Compton Magic, was once home for five players who are still playing in the NCAA tournament.

March 24, 2021

Both squads enter the Sweet 16 off games where they fired on all cylinders. Oregon ousted No. 2 seed Iowa, 95-80. The Ducks scored 1.27 points per possession, shot 27 for 43 (62.8%) from inside the arc, and 11 for 25 (44%) from the three against Iowa’s permissible defense in an uptempo game. It should be tougher sledding for Oregon against the Trojans, who rank No. 5 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy. USC stomped No. 3 Kansas, 85-51, and held the Jayhawks to an anemic 0.75 points per possession and 29% from the floor. Five “Men of Troy” also scored in double figures including the Mobley brothers (Isaiah: 17; Evan: 10).

USC is a two-point favorite over Oregon with a posted total of 139. The point spreads are as tight as they can be at this point in the season and the number of two seems right. The better betting looks for this game is on the total. Both clubs are certainly capable offensively of big nights as they proved in their last games, respectively. However, USC and Oregon will provide substantially bigger challenges defensively. USC had the best defense in the Pac-12 all season and led the league in adjusted defensive efficiency, effective field-goal percentage, free throw rate, two-point defense and blocked shot rate.


Though Oregon was middle of the pack defensively, it did lead the conference for forcing turnovers and steal percentage. Furthermore, with a likely spot in the Elite 8 against No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga on the line, possessions could get extended, and the game could slow to a crawl toward the end. The regression monster from the three-point line looms for both teams. Under 139 for the full game and Under 65 for the first half are the recommended plays.

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