USC vs Washington State Odds, Picks and Predictions: Trojans Backcourt Shines in Pullman

Our college basketball betting picks believe the Washington State Cougars must watch out for an upset when they welcome the USC Trojans to Pullman on Thursday night. Find out who JD Yonke thinks will lead the charge for USC.

Feb 29, 2024 • 11:39 ET • 4 min read
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This article contains predictions for an old game!

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The Washington State Cougars (21-7, 12-5 Pac-12) look to stay near the top of the conference standings and improve their March Madness odds outlook as they host the USC Trojans (11-16, 5-11).

Just a few days ago this looked like a squash match, but that outlook has changed a bit after both teams were involved in upsets over the weekend. The Cougars followed up a statement road win over Arizona by falling flat in a bad 12-point loss to Arizona State. Meanwhile, USC grabbed a surprising wire-to-wire victory over rival UCLA.

That’s narrowed the margins according to college basketball odds, where the Cougars are listed as 6.5-point home favorites and the total resides at 138.5. 

Some folks will tune in for Bronny James, while others may be looking for a best bet. If it’s the latter you’re after, we’ve got you covered. 

Is it time to buy low on Wazzu after a bad loss or time to believe in the new-look Trojans? Check out our college basketball picks and predictions for USC vs. Washington State on Thursday, February 29 to find out. 

USC vs Washington State best odds

USC vs Washington State picks and predictions

Depending on who you ask, the Washington State Cougars may still need to take care of business to ensure a bid in the NCAA Tournament. Kyle Smith’s squad is listed as a No. 5 seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and a No. 6 seed according to Bracket Matrix, so they’re likely in — but a loss to the Pac-12’s second-to-last place team would hurt. 

Enter Andy Enfield’s USC Trojans, who happen to be playing their best basketball of the season. In the last three games, the Trojans notched impressive wins over Utah and UCLA while falling in OT to Colorado. 

It’s not coincidental that their rise has coincided with a return to health. Five-star freshman point guard Isaiah Collier, who averages 16 points and 4.3 assists per game as one of the country’s best players, missed four weeks with a broken hand but has recently returned to 100%. It’s made a visible and sizable difference according to both the eye test and the box scores.

Collier’s an unstoppable force and pairs with Boogie Ellis to form one of the nation’s best backcourts. How on Earth can that be true of a team with an 11-16 record, you might ask? It’s fairly simple — neither has been healthy for much of the year, but they are now. 

Ellis dropped 24 points to lead all players in Saturday’s 62-56 win over UCLA. It’s the first time he’s looked like himself since mid-January — he missed three games with a hamstring injury and didn’t look like himself once returning to the court. That is, until last week. 

Boogie dropped 30 points on Colorado in the prior game, giving him 54 points across his last two games. For a player that Enfield said, “looked like older than me trying to play,” following the hamstring injury, it’s clear that a return to health is a big part of the turnaround. 

These teams last met at the Galen Center in January when the Cougars grabbed a 72-64 victory. USC was without big man Joshua Morgan and that’s the game in which Collier injured his hand, so I’m not putting too much stock in the final score. 

The Trojan’s record makes them look like an awful team. While they’ve played like one at times, it’s evident that this team possesses talent and is capable of playing much better than it did when its two best players were either out of the lineup completely or ineffective in battling through injury. They weren’t supposed to be a bad team entering the year and they aren’t playing like one now, so I’m buying the current form. 

USC has been killed by outside shots, ranking 330th in 3-point defense (36.2%) and 316th in 3-pointers allowed per game. The good news here is that just 31.4% of Washington State’s field goal attempts come from behind the arc, which ranks just 313th nationally per Hoop-Math. The Cougars have four players averaging at least 3.8 three-point attempts per game, but only one of them shoots above 35%. 

USC’s interior defense is strong led, by Joshua Morgan’s 2.4 blocks per game. The Trojans rank 15th in near-proximity defense vs. the average opponent per Haslametrics and appear well-equipped to limit the Cougars’ offense inside the arc as well. 

Give me the road dog. 

My best bet: USC +7 (-110 at bet365)

USC vs Washington State same-game parlay

USC +7

Isaiah Collier Over 13.5 points

Boogie Ellis Over 21.5 points + rebounds + assists

USC’s backcourt is the real deal. If the Trojans are going to keep things close on the road against a Washington State team that is 13-1 on the Palouse, it’ll need a valiant effort out of its two go-to guards. 

Collier is a phenomenal player and should never be listed with a point prop this low, regardless of matchup. He’s averaging 16 ppg this season and 18.1 ppg across his last seven games. The precocious Trojan has scored at least 14 points in four of his last five games and this is a great number to buy at. 

Ellis is averaging 23.9 points, rebounds, and assists per game, and therefore we’re getting a discount on his prop of 21.5 as well. He’s the healthiest he’s been in quite some time and is in phenomenal form. The last time these two teams met, he dropped 18 points while grabbing five boards and dishing two assists. 

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

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USC vs Washington State spread and Over/Under analysis

This line opened at Washington State -8 before dropping to -6.5 at most books. There are still a few locations offering -7 at the time of this writing, so be sure to track all future fluctuations using our college basketball line movement tool before placing your wager. 

The total has been a bit up and down, opening at 138, jumping a point to 139, and settling at 138.5 currently. This one may continue to change considering the early volatility. 

This is a contrast of styles in which the Trojans are dead-set on the Over (17-10 O/U) while the Cougars are profitable to the Under (12-16 O/U). That’s not exactly surprising considering Enfield’s squad looks to maximize its athleticism advantage at times by pushing the tempo whereas Smith’s squad plays at a snail’s pace, ranking 319th in adjusted tempo (KenPom). 

An interesting trend is that both teams trend to the Over in this spot as Wazzu is 8-6 O/U at Beasley Coliseum while USC is 6-4 O/U on the road. 

The Trojans would be wise to up the tempo whenever possible in this matchup to speed up the methodological Cougars. They should be able to capitalize on that game plan better than they have for most of the season now that both of its guards are healthy and in fine form. 

If playing the total, I’d lean toward the Over. 

USC vs Washington State betting trend to know

USC is 4-1 ATS in its last five road games against Washington State. Find more college basketball betting trends for USC vs. Washington State.

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USC vs Washington State game info

Location: Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, WA
Date: Thursday, February 29, 2024
Tip-off: 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: PAC 12

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