USC vs. UC Irvine Prediction: Trojans Need to Prevent Looking Ahead

USC vs. UC Irvine prediction and pick for Wednesday night's college basketball game out West. Who should you back? Find out by reading here
Mike Spector |
Wed, December 15, 9:34 AM EST | 4 min read
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USC vs. UC Irvine Prediction: Trojans Need to Prevent Looking Ahead

USC Trojans vs. UC Irvine Anteaters

Spread: USC -11

Total: 126.5

When: Wednesday, December 15 - 9:00 PM

USC vs. UC Irvine odds

USC vs. UC Irvine Prediction

The USC Trojans are one of three top ten teams from their conference in action tonight, but they face the stiffest test compared to their Pac-12 counterparts. UC Irvine is a formidable opponent for the undefeated Trojans, who play their next two non-conference games against Power Five teams. Will the Anteaters catch the Trojans looking ahead to games against ACC and Big 12 opponents, or will USC make it five straight non-conference wins by double digits to start the season?

UC Irvine just had a five-game winning streak snapped in their last game at Fresno State. In the Anteaters' two losses, they have averaged just 53 points per game. UCI makes their living from beyond the arc, shooting 39.7% from deep as a team (ranks 13th in the country). However, they are one of the worst shooting teams from inside the arc, making 39.9% of their close-range shots (351st in the nation). The Anteaters are one of the deepest teams in the country, with 13 players averaging at least ten minutes per game. The team is led by senior Collin Welp's 12.6 PPG while shooting guard Dawson Baker is their second-leading scorer off the bench with 11.2 PPG.

USC is one of six remaining unbeaten teams in the country, as they enter this game with a 10-0 SU record and 6-4 ATS record. The Trojans rank in the top 23 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency (per KenPom) and do a great job taking care of the basketball, turning the ball over on just 15.1% of their possessions (ranks 24th). While UC Irvine will go as many as 13 players deep, USC's rotation is much shorter, with seven players averaging more than 15 minutes per game. However, for as short of a rotation as they have, their scoring is balanced with four players averaging in double figures, led by 6'10" junior Isaiah Mobley's 14.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

This is a fascinating matchup, as UC Irvine is one of the few teams that have the size to match up with the Trojans. USC struggled against Washington State's massive front line, as they were held to 63 points, their second-lowest scoring output of the season. USC is accustomed to making their living with close-range shots, as their 56% 2-point shooting percentage ranks 26th in the country. However, the Anteaters play a packed-in style of defense and have elite rim protectors, as they hold opponents to just 41.6% (13th in the country) inside the arc.

USC has an advantage over most teams by getting them into early foul trouble and testing their opponents' depth. However, UC Irvine has plenty of fouls to give if they have difficulty defending Mobley or keeping USC's talented guards of Ethan Anderson and Boogie Ellis out of the lane.

Of their 10-0 start, USC head coach Andy Enfield said, "I can't be too upset if we haven't lost, but there's always things to clean up and get better at. Our goal is to be an elite defensive team, but we're not there yet. I'm happy with the team. We're excited to be 10-0."

It is scary to think Enfield has room to grow on the defensive end, as what we have seen so far looks pretty good. They rank third in the country in effective field goal percentage defense and allow the fourth-lowest shooting percentage (39.9%) inside the arc. Look for USC to extend on UC Irvine's three-point shooters, daring them to penetrate and funneling them into their elite shot blockers.

The under has cashed in each of UC Irvine’s last five games, and is 5-1 in USC’s last six. With two outstanding defensive teams on display in Los Angeles, scoring will be at a premium.

USC vs. UC Irvine Pick

  • PICK: UNDER 129.5 (-110)
Mike Spector
@MikeSpector01

Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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