Game: UC-Irvine Anteaters @ USC Trojans
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Anteaters +10.5, USC -10.5
The No. 10 team in the country, USC, plays host to UC-Irvine tonight. The Anteaters had won five straight before running into Fresno State on Saturday. UC-Irvine turned the ball over 21 times and ended up on the wrong end of a 63-55 decision. Now, they have to play one of the best defensive teams in the country in the Trojans.
USC is 10-0 and has held seven of its ten opponents under 70 points. For the season, the Trojans are allowing just 61.4 points per game. That ranks 51st in the nation. The Trojans’ success on defense comes from their ability to defend shooters. USC ranks fourth in the nation in effective opponent field goal percentage and 16th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Trojans’ defensive abilities were on full display in their last game against Long Beach State. USC held their opponent to just 27.8 percent shooting from long range and won 73-62. On the offensive end, junior Isaiah Mobley led the Trojans with 21 points. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and has been USC’s best player so far this season. Mobley averages 14.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for the season.
As good as USC is on defense, they also average over 77 points per game. Mobley is the team’s leading scorer. Chevez Goodwin (12.2 ppg), Boogie Ellis (12.0), and Drew Peterson (10.9) all average in double figures for head coach Andy Enfield’s squad.
UC-Irvine is one of the best teams in the Big West Conference and might end up with an NCAA tournament bid when the season is all said and done. Collin Welp (12.6 ppg) and Dawson Baker (11.2) are the only Anteaters that score in double figures, but there are six players that score at least eight points per game.
Like the Trojans, the Anteaters forte is on defense. They are even better than USC ranking second in the country in opponent field goal percentage and fifth overall in scoring defense. The Anteaters hold opponents to just 54.6 points per game. The most points UC-Irvine has allowed all season was 64 in a win over UC-Santa Barbara. The Anteaters have held two of their seven opponents this season under 50.
Both teams play at pretty methodical paces. It’s easy to see why all seven of UC-Irvine’s games have gone Under the posted total this season. The Under has cashed in five of USC’s last six games and is 7-3 in the Trojans’ 10 games this season. At 126.5, tonight’s total is the lowest that USC has faced all season.
In UC-Irvine’s loss to Fresno State on Saturday, the total was set at 123.5, the lowest the Anteaters have seen all year. The total did end up going Under. UC-Irvine’s defense keeps the team in games as it might tonight. The Anteaters are 3-2 ATS this season. USC is 3-2 ATS in its last five games. They failed to cover their last two games as double-digit favorites.