USC vs UCLA Odds, Picks and Predictions: February 24

UCLA and USC are both going through disappointing seasons, but at least one side has taken steps to turn its season around, giving our college basketball picks value in targeting them tonight.

Feb 24, 2024 • 13:42 ET • 4 min read
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The rivalry isn’t over after today, but it certainly will be changing. 

The USC Trojans (10-16, 4-11 Pac-12) and UCLA Bruins (14-12, 9-6) meet on the hardwood for the last time as members of the Pac-12 this Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. 

These teams last met on January 27 with the Bruins snagging a 65-50 away victory, although the Trojans were without the services of star point guard Isaiah Collier for the matchup. USC’s second-leading scorer is back in the lineup for the rematch. 

Looking at college basketball odds, the Bruins are listed at -5 while the total is set at 133. 

Will the Bruins keep up their winning ways, or will the Trojans have an answer? Check out our college basketball picks and predictions for USC vs. UCLA on Saturday, February 24. 

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USC vs UCLA picks and predictions

These are two proud programs that have found NCAA Tournament success in recent seasons. In the last three years, the UCLA Bruins have made the Sweet 16 twice and the Final Four once, while the USC Trojans went dancing three times and made an Elite Eight appearance. 

How things have changed this season! The Trojans are ahead of only Oregon State in the Pac-12 standings in what’s been a disastrous campaign for Andy Enfield’s squad. They’ve won just two of their last 11 games and are limping to the finish line. 

There’s technically still a chance for the Bruins to go dancing, although it’d have to be considered a long shot at best. UCLA dug itself a hole by losing 10 of 13 games in a dark stretch from November 20 to January 11. The last defeat of that stretch was the worst of them all — a 46-point drubbing in Salt Lake City. 

That public embarrassment did kick off a revival, however, as the Bruins won eight of their last nine games to rocket up the conference standings. Some of that momentum came to a halt after a buzzer-beating loss at home against Utah on Sunday, but Mick Cronin’s squad still sits in fourth place in the Pac-12 — something that would’ve seemed inconceivable a month and a half ago. 

I’ll cut straight to the point — I think the Bruins are a better team, are better coached, have more motivation, and, therefore, are the betting side on Saturday night. 

Per Barttovik, the Bruins have been the 24th-best team in the country since turning its season around starting on January 14. In that same period, the Trojans rank all the way down at 154th, surrounded by a host of mid majors. 

Some might say that it’s handpicking a sample size to only consider UCLA’s recent performance as opposed to its faltering out of the gates early in the year, but I think that’s just considering the obvious context. The Bruins had a massive roster overhaul occur this offseason and Cronin opted to primarily fill the void with freshman recruits rather than the transfer portal. 

That created a scenario where this year’s roster was very green and lacked experience. Key contributions were needed by highly-touted first-year overseas imports like Aday Mara, Jan Vide, Berke Buyuktuncel, and Ilane Fibleuil — but they all flopped. Buyuktuncel is the only one averaging more than 15 minutes per game and he’s shooting just 37.9% from the floor while turning the ball over (18) more than handing out assists (11). 

While he may have messed up the roster overhaul this offseason, Cronin has done some of his best coaching lately in making the most out of this year’s flawed roster. Now that the pieces have fallen into place, the Bruins are a fearsome defensive group, ranking 31st in adjusted efficiency (KenPom) while allowing just 64.1 ppg. 

They have a go-to guard in freshman Sebastian Mack, who will be available after getting ejected early against Utah, which perhaps turned the tide in that game and created a smidge of value in today’s betting line. They have an elite rim protector in big man Adem Bona and two complementary all-around wings in Lazar Stefanovic and Dylan Andrews. That’s enough for Cronin to get cookin’. 

My best bet: UCLA -5 (-105 at Caesars)

USC vs UCLA same-game parlay

UCLA -5 

Under 133 

Isaiah Collier Over 13.5 points

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I considered playing the Under as this game’s best bet, and therefore like it as a leg of this SGP. Recent history indicates that this will be a low-scoring matchup as these two teams have combined to go 2-8 O/U across the last 10 meetings. 

UCLA has been an Under train in general at 10-15 O/U and that’s been true at home, too, where it is 5-8-1 O/U at Pauley. 

The last leg featured five-star USC freshman guard Isaiah Collier going Over 13.5 points. This prop offers value regardless of game script — I’ve been hammering Collier’s Overs lately as they are continually set too low for this star player. 

He missed some time with a broken hand and needed some time to get his groove back after returning at the early point of his initial anticipated return timeframe, but he’s now 100% and is visibly one of the most talented players in the country. He averages 16.2 ppg and has scored at least 15 points in four straight games, so this prop is simply too low. He’ll be relied upon heavily after missing the first matchup and has since established himself as the alpha on this roster.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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USC vs UCLA spread and Over/Under analysis

There hasn’t been much line movement yet — UCLA opened at -5.5 in some spots before dropping a half-point to -5, while the total has mostly remained steady. Track any further changes using our college basketball line movement tool. 

USC has dropped three of its last four games. First, the Trojans dropped both games of the Bay Area trip, falling by six at Cal and then by 31 in a Stanford blowout. They then impressed with a four-point home win over Utah and turned heads again by gaining a 16-point second-half lead over Colorado in the next game. They’d blow that lead and end up falling to the Buffs 92-89 in double overtime.

UCLA, on the other hand, swept the Bay Area trip and handled Colorado 64-60 at home before the heart-breaking Utah loss. The Bruins were 5.5-point favorites in that matchup, so apparently the bookmakers view the Utes and the Trojans as essentially of the same caliber despite Utah ranking 58 spots higher in KenPom.

As for the total, neither team has a glaring statistical edge offensively, and therefore I lean toward the Under. 

UCLA lives in the mid-range, taking a nation-leading 41.8% of their shots via 2-point jumpers. There’s a reason that mid-range jumpers aren’t as plentiful as they used to be — they’re inefficient and it’s mighty tough to make a living when nearly half of your shots are long twos. 

The Bruins have struggled to generate offense all year, scoring just 66.2 ppg (333rd) while shooting 41.7% from the field (318th). 

On the flip side, USC ranks 190th in adjusted offensive efficiency since January 14 (Barttovik). Enfield’s squad will be hard-pressed to light up the scoreboard against a Bruins defense that ranks 19th in adjusted efficiency over that same period. 

USC vs UCLA betting trend to know

The Trojans are 0-10 straight up as an underdog this season. Find more college basketball betting trends for USC vs. UCLA.

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USC vs UCLA game info

Location: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Date: Saturday, February 24, 2024
Tip-off: 10:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN

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