The USC Trojans (9-2, 3-1 Pac-12) will host a struggling Washington Huskies (1-9, 0-5) team in a Pac-12 battle on Thursday night. Washington has not won since early December against Seattle and is currently riding a six-game losing streak.
The Trojans survived the upset bid of UC-Riverside in their last game, squeaking by in overtime, 67-62. USC looks to be headed towards a place in the Top 25.
The Pac-12 is weak at the bottom, but it should be a tight race to the title between USC, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA.
Washington Having a Season to Forget
The Huskies’ 1-9 record is a bit misleading as they have played one of the tougher schedules in the nation. But, make no mistake that Washington is making college basketball news as one of the worst power conference teams in the nation with California and Kansas State.
Coach Mike Hopkins has never had a team finish outside of the Kenpom top 100, but it looks inevitable this season. After finishing 15-17 last season, Hopkins is coaching for his job the rest of the way.
Quade Green leads the team in scoring (15.5), assists (3.2) and steals (1.5). Green is top 100 in both percentage of possession and shots. Green is only shooting 28% from behind the arc.
The Huskies have no other players averaging in double figures. Nate Roberts, a 6-11 sophomore, has been their most efficient player, shooting 54.5% from the floor.
Washington is shooting an abysmal 39.4% from the field and 26.7% from three-point range. Hopkins will probably start to pivot the majority of the offense from the senior Green and see what some of the younger players can offer in the future.
The Huskies are ranked 141st in the nation by Kenpom. The offense is 185th in efficiency, and the defense ranks 107th.
USC Putting Together a Tournament Resume
The Trojans have only two losses, and both of those came against teams who are currently projected in the NCAA March Madness field: Colorado and UConn. USC does need to find some quality wins, and unfortunately, the lack of depth in the Pac-12 will hurt those opportunities.
USC still has quality chances at Stanford, Colorado and UCLA, and home games against Oregon and UCLA. The Trojans will need to avoid bad losses and win at least two of the five to keep their tournament hopes alive.
USC is led by one of the best freshmen in all of college basketball, Evan Mobley. Mobley leads the team in scoring (16.2), rebounds (9.0) and blocks (3.3). The 7-footer is projected to be a lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft.
Tahj Eaddy is second on the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game, followed by Drew Peterson at 10.4 per contest. Peterson is making just over 45% of his shots from three-point range.
Kenpom has USC ranked 21st in the country. The Trojans ranks 44th in offensive efficiency and 13th in defense. They are top 10 in both effective field goal percentage against and two-point field goal percentage.
Free College Basketball Pick
Washington is going to struggle to find an answer for either of the Mobley brothers inside. Nate Roberts at 6-11 will be tasked with guarding Evan Mobley, with Hameir Wright drawing Isaiah Mobley.
These will both be mismatches that USC can exploit. Evan is a superior athlete to any of the Washington big men. Riley Sorn, at 7-4, will get a shot at guarding him but is not nearly athletic enough to stay with him outside of the paint.
USC is better at all five starting positions than Washington. This game should get out of hand early and be all Trojans. It is a big spread for a Pac-12 conference game, but USC should run away in this one.
When making your college basketball picks, go with the Trojans to cover the spread.