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USC Looks to Continue Strong Run

The undefeated USC Trojans won’t have to travel far to play in the Paycom Wooden Legacy tournament. A showdown with 2-2 Saint Joseph’s is on tap for Thursday at Anaheim Convention Center.

Georgetown and San Diego State will meet in the other game on Thursday with the two losers and two winners meeting, respectively, on Friday.

Nationally ranked USC looks to continue its strong non-conference run
Katharine Lotze/Getty Images/AFP

Saint Joseph’s is making its second appearance in the Wooden Legacy tournament going 1-2 in the 2017 event.

USC is ranked 24th in The Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Hawks are 45-141 against ranked teams in their history.

Southern California is listed at +6600 in the odds to win March Madness.

The Trojans were given the fourth-best odds to win what is expected to be an ultra-competitive Pac-12 title.

The game is set for 9:30 p.m.. and will air on ESPN2.

Ellis Home with Trojans

It hasn’t taken long for Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis to carve a key offensive role with a veteran Trojans team that was favored according to the sportsbook in each of its first four games.

Ellis opened the season with 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting in a win over CSU Northridge. After a bit of an off-shooting performance against Temple, Ellis dropped 18 on Florida Gulf Coast and 19 on Dixie State. He had three three-pointers in each of the last two games and had a season-high six assists against FGCU.

Ellis leads the 4-0 Trojans in scoring with 68 points. He also has a team-high eight 3-pointers, is for the lead with five steals, and is second with 16 assists.

Joining a team that returned six of the top eight scorers from a 25-8 team that advanced to the Elite Eight, it could have been a bit of a struggle for a player who transferred in after averaging 10.2 points per game as a sophomore at Memphis to earn the American Athletic Conference co-Sixth Man of the Year award.

Ellis won’t be up for that award in the Pac-12 after starting each of the first four games and leading the team with 117 minutes played.

“He is a terrific offensive player,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “He is shooting the ball well, making the right play at the right time, sharing the ball and he plays very hard so we are excited for him.”

Returnees Chevez Goodwin, Isaiah Mobley, and Drew Peterson have also started all four games. The other starting spot have featured Ethan Anderson, Isaiah White and Max Agbonkpolo.

The rotation should continue to get solidified when the Trojans’ non-conference schedule goes up a notch in difficulty at the Wooden Legacy tournament.

No Funk for Hawks’ Top Scorer

A lot was expected of Taylor Funk after he was the second-leading scorer for Saint Joseph’s a season ago.

The 6-foot-8 redshirt senior from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has been the picture of consistency.

Funk averaged 17.4 points a game during the 2020-21 season and he has topped that number in three of the first four games. Funk has been especially dangerous from the perimeter with 17 three-pointers already this season.

Funk hit a three-pointer in the final 10 seconds to keep the Hawks from losing to Maryland-Eastern Shore. The Hawks were listed in the college basketball spreads as 24½-point favorites in the game.

We didn’t run that the whole game,” Funk said after the game. “Edge [forward Ejike Obinna] set a great screen, and they didn’t switch it — and if would have switched it, I think Edge would have had an open dunk. Great call by Coach.”

Funk is getting plenty of help as the Hawks have two games this season with four double-digit scorers. Sophomore Jordan Hall is coming off a career-high 24 points effort against Monmouth.

USC vs. St. Joseph’s Hawks

USC is are 6-1 in its last seven games when listed by the Las Vegas odds as a favorite. They are 6-2 against the spread during that time with a straight-up loss to Gonzaga in the 2021 NCAA tournament and a win against Temple, another Philadelphia school, but failed to cover as a six-point favorite.

Saint Joseph’s has lost 17 of its last 20 games when playing as an underdog.

The Hawks have only covered in one of their last five games.

The Trojans are the heavy favorite to cover and will be facing a Saint Joseph’s team that lost to Drexel and Monmouth in its last two games. It is a large number to cover but we’d go with the Trojans to cover for the fourth time in five games this season.

Pick: Southern California -17 1/2

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