Mick Cronin and the No. 8 UCLA Bruins (17-3) look to get back in the win column as they make the crosstown trip to the Galen Center. Their 14-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday against Arizona.
The first time these teams met on January 5, UCLA hung on for a narrow 60-58 win after racing out to a big early lead. Fans hope Thursday night’s meeting is just as entertaining.
Andy Enfield is 4-1 against Cronin in his career. Will that success continue Thursday night? Read our college basketball betting picks for UCLA vs. USC below to find out.
UCLA vs USC best odds
UCLA vs USC picks and predictions
How will one of the best teams in the country respond after getting a 14-game losing streak broken? The UCLA Bruins head across town to the Galen Center, which was packed to the gills for last year’s matchup between these two rivals.
This is a big game for the home team as well. The USC Trojans will need a strong finish to the season to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Current bracketology predictions from CBS list the Trojans as an 11-seed and their 14-6 record do not assure them a spot in the dance if they falter down the stretch run.
The Trojans aren’t a fearsome team in 2022-23, but they're still a tough out. USC ranks 49th overall in KenPom, checking in at 68th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 43rd in adjusted defensive efficiency.
With wins in three of the last four games, Enfield’s squad has welcomed the return of five-star freshman Vincent Iwuchukwu to the lineup. He’s getting more comfortable on the court, evidenced by a 12-point, five-rebound performance in 14 minutes against Arizona State that also included a block.
The Bruins are listed as a narrow 4.5-point favorite for this matchup, a narrow line considering this is a Top-10 — potentially Top-5 — team in the country. True, things were too close for comfort in the first meeting against their crosstown rivals. UCLA held on for a 60-58 win despite shooting just 34.5% from the field. Rather than relying on a one-game sample, however, I think it's more prudent to zoom out and evaluate these teams as a whole.
The Bruins check in at No. 3 overall in KenPom, ranking 22nd in adjusted offensive efficiency and third in adjusted defensive efficiency. This is undeniably an elite defense and the emergence of freshman big man Adem Bona has only helped in that regard. The first-year player from Nigeria averages 1.5 blocks per game, providing rim protection for a roster otherwise lacking in height.
This line seems short, so I will be backing the favorite. UCLA was an 11-point favorite against this same opponent just 21 days ago, and the current line feels like an overcorrection. The Bruins have taken a slide offensively lately due to a poor shooting run.
Considering veteran players like Jaimie Jaquez, Tyger Campbell, and Jaylen Clark are the three leaders in shot attempts per game, we know that these guys are highly capable of getting the ball into the basket. Cold spell or not, this is a very good and experienced team and I expect them to get back on track as the superior team on Thursday night.
My best bet: UCLA -4.5 (-110 at bet365)
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UCLA vs USC spread analysis
Be sure to shop around, as UCLA is -4.5 at most locations but there is also 5.5 available if you’re looking to back the USC side.
UCLA is a profitable 12-8 ATS this season. The Bruins have been on a nice run for backers lately, posting a 7-3 ATS mark in their last 10 games. While it's never easy to back a team on the road against a rival, I think that factor is mitigated since UCLA is such a veteran team and is making a short trip to a familiar venue.
The Bruins have been road warriors, going 7-2 ATS in their last nine away games against a team with a winning record. USC is 11-9 ATS this season and despite having a 9-1 record straight-up home record, the Trojans are just 4-6 ATS in those games.
Both teams enter this contest off the Arizona trip, which saw both teams go 1-1 with respective wins over Arizona State and losses to Arizona. Before that, both teams also swept the Mountain schools (Utah, Colorado) at home.
Perhaps USC can keep this one close at home in a big game against a UCLA team that has been cold from the field, but I’m just not a very big fan of this iteration of the Trojans. The team is far too reliant on Drew Peterson and Boogie Ellis to generate offense, and Ellis has long been a mercurial scorer.
Unless the breakout games are still to come later in the season, the tertiary scoring options have not shown enough signs of life for me to be a believer at this time.
UCLA vs USC Over/Under analysis
The total is set between 131 and 132.5 at current depending on the sportsbook. Both teams have been a profitable 11-9 to the Under this season.
It’s no secret that UCLA likes to slow things down offensively, ranking 242nd in KenPom’s adjusted tempo metric. The Bruins have been on a remarkable run to the Under, cashing in eight of their last nine games.
USC doesn’t play with any particular pace either, checking in at 155th in adjusted tempo. Its offense is the lowest-rated unit in this matchup. The Trojans are not a good shooting team, ranking 124th in field goal shooting (45.6%) and 296th in 3-point shooting (31.8%).
They look alright when they’re able to get easy looks inside the arc, but that’s far from a sure bet against a stingy defense surrendering just 59.8 ppg. Cronin’s squad suffocates opposing shooters, ranking 56th in field goal defense (40.9%) and 27th in 3-point defense (29.6%).
Blindly taking the Under in UCLA games has been one way to make money this season betting on college basketball. Although it’s a low total, I still prefer the Under. These teams combined for just 118 points in the first matchup.
UCLA vs USC betting trend to know
UCLA is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games. Find more College basketball betting trends for UCLA vs. USC.
UCLA vs USC game info
|Location:||Galen Center, Los Angeles, CA|
|Date:||Thursday, January 26, 2023|
|Tip-off:||9:00 p.m. ET|