The saying in college basketball is it’s tough to beat a good team three times in one season.
The truth? It’s tough to beat a good team once.
The only rematch in this year’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 will occur between the Southern California Trojans and the Oregon Ducks. They were supposed to meet twice in the regular season, but one of those was postponed and eventually disappeared because of a COVID pause. The first of their meetings occurred Feb. 22 in Los Angeles, and the Trojans blew Oregon out the Galen Center, 72-58.
Oregon converted only 40 percent of its 2-point shots, even on a night when All-American USC freshman Evan Mobley did not earn a block. The Ducks were wrecked on the boards.
It would seem everything that was in place that night still is the same: the players who provide such a height and length advantage to USC still are available. But sports rarely are so predictable, and the incentive for the Ducks to find a solution to their problems is far greater now.
It’s tough to win any NCAA Tournament game, even if a team has won that game before, so to speak.
Here’s everything to know about betting on USC vs. Oregon in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for the Sweet 16 game.
USC vs. Oregon odds
- Spread: Southern California by 2.5
- Over/under: 139
- Moneyline: Southern California -142, Oregon +120
Three betting trends to watch
— In the only prior meeting between the two, USC entered as a 3.5-point favorite and won, 72-58.
— USC has been favored in all but three games since Jan. 1. The Trojans went 13-8 ATS as a favorite during that period, including 2-0 in the NCAAs.
— Oregon has won six of its past seven ATS, but this is only the Ducks’ fifth game as an underdog. They were 2-2 in those other four games ATS and 2-2 straight up.
USC key players
Evan Mobley is among the tournament’s most talented players, a versatile 7-0 big man who is effective as a face-up shooter and devastating as a shot-blocker. He is especially effective on the ball, taking down his own man’s attempts. His brother Isaiah is a year ahead, a 6-11, 235-pound forward who focuses primarily on rebounding but had an outrageous game against Kansas in the second round, making 4-of-5 from 3-point range after hitting only 16 threes all year. Wing Drew Peterson gives Evan Mobley a target for inside-out passes and is dangerous as a spot-up shooter. Guard Tahj Eaddy, an effective 3-point shooter and insistent penetrator of the lane, is the most constant presence in the backcourt.
Oregon key players
The Ducks have five players averaging double-figure scoring, led by versatile 6-6 wing Chris Duarte, who is a threat to score at all three levels. Power forward Eugene Omoruyi transferred from Rutgers just as the Scarlet Knights were getting close to turning around their program, and after sitting out last season has become a physical presence this Ducks team needed to excel but also a versatile inside-out scorer. Guard L.J. Figueroa has been a major contributor in his first year after transferring from Rutgers, including 21 points and five 3-pointers in the second-round destruction of Iowa.
Best individual matchup: E. Mobley vs. Omoruyi
When Oregon played the Trojans the first time, Evan Mobley didn’t ring up big numbers, but the Trojans’ size punished Oregon, particularly on the boards (a 39-25 USC advantage). Omoruyi was 3-of-10 for nine points in that one. If that happens this time, it likely will mean the Ducks are done. Mobley’s ability to cover ground and protect the rim at his size makes him a nightmare matchup for Omoruyi, but the Ducks veteran does have a strength and experience advantage and has to use those qualities to his advantage.
USC vs. Oregon stat to know
Oregon lost it’s one shot-block threat, center N’Faly Dante, to a knee injury in December. The team’s season total in blocks now stands at 94. Evan Mobley has blocked 93 shots himself.
Get to know … Chris Duarte
Duarte’s journey to Oregon has been amazing, taking him from his home in the Dominican Republic to high school basketball at Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, N.Y., to junior college at Northwest Florida State. He’d planned to go to Western Kentucky, but there was an issue with transferring credits from his school back home, so he became the national junior college player of the year and an attractive target for big-time basketball programs. It took longer than he hoped; Duarte believed he might be ready for the NBA Draft after a single D-1 season, but he missed end of last season with an injury, averaged only 12.9 points and shot 33.6 percent on threes. He had to be better. And this year, he was, performing at an All-America level: 17 points per game, 42.8 percent deep shooting, 1.8 steals.
USC vs. Oregon prediction
The absence of a true post player in the Oregon lineup was obvious in the Iowa game, with Sporting News player of the year Luka Garza overwhelming the Ducks for 36 points on 14-of-20 shooting. But they bet they could trick the Hawkeyes into playing and end-to-end game and mitigate the impact his physical power could have on the outcome. And they were right. That’s unlikely to work against the Trojans, who rank 236th in tempo according to KenPom.com and have no reason to hurry themselves in this one. They’ll want a halfcourt game so their size and length up front remains the decisive factor.
Final score: USC 70, Oregon 67