Last Updated: 2017-03-06
The USC Trojans are 8-0 on the season, but they haven’t played a schedule worthy of a top-25 rankings just yet. But, as teams ahead of them keep losing games, the chances are better and better that Southern Cal will get a number next to its name. It certainly looks like the Trojans will improve to 9-0 with the Pepperdine Waves in town for a visit at the Galen Center. Pepperdine has struggled through a pretty weak schedule and brings a four-game losing streak to Los Angeles. Oddsmakers at DSI Sportsbook have USC favored well into double digits and you can play on this and every other line with some help from the BANG200 promo code that will net you a 100 percent bonus for the sportsbook and a 100 percent bonus for the live casino.
That losing streak for Pepperdine is both straight up and against the spread. The Waves have not been riding the crest of the wave too many times this season, as they are just 4-5 straight up and an ugly 2-6 against the number. Pepperdine covered as a short pup in a minor upset win over Arkansas-Little Rock and in a win over Cal Poly. USC is 8-0 straight up and they are also one of the best teams for bettors so far with a 6-1 mark against the spread. The Trojans have ripped off five straight covers, so maybe we do have a little bit of recency bias in this line, but respect is earned, not given by the oddsmakers and bettors and USC has earned some thus far.
Pepperdine resides in the West Coast Conference, which is a mid-major to watch this season per Kyle Hunter of HunterSportsPicks.com, who talked about this league with radio show host Adam Burke on last Monday’s version of Handicapping the Hardwood. There are a lot of new coaches out there that have the skills to turn some of these teams around. Pepperdine does not have a new coach, but they are coming off of a season with some postseason basketball. The Waves went into the CBI Tournament and lost in the first round to Eastern Washington, but they had a 18-14 season and a 10-8 conference mark.
Pepperdine’s offense runs through Lamond Murray Jr., who is the leading scorer for the second straight season. Murray is lighting it up from distance at nearly 53 percent, which is why he has been able to increase his productivity from 16.6 points per game to 22 points per game. As a team, Pepperdine has been pretty efficient offensively with 74 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting and over 40 percent from distance. Chris Reyes and Jeremy Major are the other Waves in double digits on the season. Freshman Nolan Taylor could be the missing piece that this team needs to get back on track. The rookie missed the first seven games of the season, but is 8-for-11 shooting over the last two games against Belmont and Long Beach State. He’s an athletic big from Texas and his presence should increase as the season goes on.
On the USC side, it’s all about points for Andy Enfield’s team. After a big run with Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA Tournament a few years ago, Enfield switched coasts and took up residence in the Los Angeles area. There have been some growing pains to say the least, but USC learned a lot last season and really started to look very effective in this offense. They made it to the NCAA Tournament, but lost in the #8 vs. #9 game to Providence. USC was 18-5 before limping to the finish at 21-13. It seems like the Trojans took some of those lessons learned from last season and have applied them to this season’s successes.
As mentioned, it’s all about offense for USC. The Trojans enter this game with six players in double figures on a nightly basis. They have also rebounded the basketball extremely well with 103 offensive boards. Elijah Stewart is currently the leader and the go-to player for this squad with 16 points and six rebounds per game. Chimezie Metu has 12.5 points and almost eight rebounds per effort. The Trojans are shooting a tick better than 45 percent as a team, so they have been quick and fairly efficient. It will be interesting to see how things progress when they get Jordan McLaughlin going. He’s having his worst season from deep and is still one of the six players in double figures, so there’s some untapped potential left here for this USC club.
College Basketball Free Pick: Pepperdine Waves +19
Coming off of a big win over BYU, there could be a little bit of a letdown from the Trojans here in this spot. Pepperdine, like most smaller schools, will have a chip on its shoulder going into the Galen Center. The most dangerous teams in sports are the truly elite and the ones that have nothing to lose. Pepperdine has nothing to lose here in a game in which they are supposed to get blown out. USC’s defensive lapses allow teams to hang around and that’s exactly what could happen here.