The Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers garner most of the attention from basketball fans in Tinsel Town, but the two major college basketball programs are both having strong seasons, and are fighting each other for the Pac-12 title. USC (15-3) and UCLA (13-4) are essentially co-favorites to win the Pac-12. The USC Trojans, thanks to the Mobley brothers, have a slight edge at +150 odds, compared to the UCLA Bruins at +175 odds to win the Pac-12.
It’s really a three-pony race as we head into the home stretch of the Pac-12 regular season. The Oregon Ducks (10-4) are the third-highest team on the Pac-12 futures board at +350 odds, according to a recent update by DraftKings.
The Colorado Buffaloes (15-5) are +1000 odds to win the Pac-12. The Buffs won’t have to worry about earning an at-large bid to March Madness if they can run the table to win the Pac-12 conference tournament.
|PAC-12 CONFERENCE BASKETBALL ODDS|
- USC +150
- UCLA +175
- Oregon +350
- Colorado +1000
- Stanford +1300
- Arizona State +2100
- Utah +3000
- Oregon State +10000
- Washington State +10000
- Washington +50000
- California +100000
USC and UCLA have the same national championship odds at +4000, according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. USC has never won a men’s college basketball championship. UCLA won 11 championships, but they haven’t won one since 1995. The Bruins have just one title since John Wooden’s last championship in 1975.
USC Seeks First Title Since 1984
USC’s hoops program hasn’t been the same since they went to the Sweet 16 under Tim Floyd in 2007. They advanced to the Round of 32 only twice since then, with just five March Madness appearances.
Andy Enfield’s team went 22-9 last season during a bounce-back year. They were one of the numerous bubble teams, but the NCAA canceled 2020 March Madness when the pandemic hit.
USC won the Pac-12 conference tournament once in 2009, but hasn’t won a regular-season title since 1984.
Earlier in the week, USC moved into the AP Top 25 Poll with a #20 ranking.
Mobley Brothers Lead USC
This season, first-place USC lost only three games with a 9-2 record in the Pac-12. They lost to UConn by three points earlier in the season. In conference action, the Trojans lost to Colorado and suffered a tough 2-point loss to the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis. USC enacted revenge on the Beavers when they played in downtown LA and won by seven points.
USC won four games in a row and is fresh off a blowout victory over UCLA, who was ranked #21 at the time. The Trojans trounced the Bruins 66-48 last Saturday.
Ethan Anderson, a sophomore guard from LA averaging only 6.8 ppg, recently returned from a back injury. He came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points and knocked down 5-for-7 from 3-point range in the blowout over their crosstown rival.
“This is a very big night for me just because I haven’t seen my shots fall the way I wanted them to,” said Anderson.
The Mobley brothers are the key to the Trojans’ success. Super-frosh Evan Mobley, a 7-foot center, leads the team with 16.3 points and nine rebounds per game. His older brother, Isaiah Mobley, a 6-foot-10 power forward, averages 9.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. Evan Mobley was the #1 overall high school recruit in the country coming into this season, and USC was fortunate to land him, even if they did have the inside edge because Isiah already attended USC.
USC plays two road games against inferior opponents this week. They play Washington (3-14) in Seattle on Thursday and Washington State (11-8) in Pullman on Saturday.
UCLA: Losing Chris Smith
UCLA took a huge hit when their best scorer, Chris Smith, blew out his ACL in a game against Utah on New Year’s Eve. Smith, a 6-foot-9 senior swingman, looks like he’s played his last game for the Bruins. He averaged 13.1 ppg for head coach Mick Cronin last season, and led the team with 12.6 ppg this season.
“Seeing our brother down like that, that really kind of gave us a flame to go out there and play harder,” said teammate Cody Riley.
“I still think we can be an offensive team without Chris,” said Cronin.
Jaime Jaquez, a sophomore guard, currently leads UCLA with 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Cronin now relies on Jaquez as the focal point of the offense. After Smith’s injury, UCLA is lacking depth off the bench.
UCLA fell out of the AP Top 25 Poll after their ugly loss to the Trojans at USC.
The Bruins fly to the Northwest this weekend for road games against erratic Washington State and crappy Washington. Arizona (13-6) and Arizona State (6-8) visit LA next weekend.