Tuesday night brings a couple of Elite Eight matchups including the West Region showdown between the USC Trojans and Gonzaga Bulldogs at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, so here’s the best NCAA Championship betting pick along with the latest odds on William Hill Sportsbook.
The No. 1 Gonzaga opens as a firm 9-point fave with a total of 155.0 points, while the No. 6 USC sits at +350 odds to win straight up. These two schools haven’t met each other since 1992 when the Trojans beat the Zags 77-59.
USC cruised through the first three rounds
The USC Trojans have dominated their rivals through the first three rounds of the 2021 March Madness. After a 72-56 win over the No. 11 Drake and an 85-51 dismantling off the No. 3 Kansas, the Trojans hammered their conference rivals Oregon 82-68 in the Sweet 16 this past Sunday.
The No. 7 Ducks trailed by 15 points at halftime, and USC kept the foot on the gas in the second period. The Trojans finished the game with 57.4% shooting from the field and 58.8% from downtown, while senior guard Isaiah White led the way with 22 points and five rebounds.
USC played some terrific defense in each of its previous three contests. The Trojans held the Jayhawks to 29.0% shooting from the field, and Oregon made just 37.7% of its field goals in the Sweet 16. Andy Enfield’s boys own the fourth-best defensive rating in the country (87.9 points per 100 possessions) while scoring 115.9 points per 100 possessions (14th).
Gonzaga aims for its 30th win of the season
The Gonzaga Bulldogs entered the Big Dance undefeated and searching for a perfect season. They thrashed off the No. 16 Norfolk State 98-55 in the first round, and the Zags didn’t break too much sweat in the 87-71 second-round victory over the No. 8 Oklahoma and an 83-65 Sweet-16 win over the No. 5 Creighton either.
Sophomore forward Drew Timme dropped 30 points on Oklahoma and 22 on Creighton, while the Zags shot 49.1% from the field against the Sooners and 59.6% against the Bluejays. Creighton’s defense particularly struggled to cope with Gonzaga’s offense that recorded a whopping 23 assists.
The Zags have been the top-ranked team in the country all season long. They score 126.4 points per 100 possessions (1st in the nation) on 55.1% shooting from the field (also 1st) while yielding 88.6 points in a return (7th) on 41.7% shooting from the field (79th).
- 9-4 ATS in the last 13 games as underdogs
I’m expecting the Bulldogs to win this clash. If they continue with a strong overall performance and enjoy a solid shooting night, the Trojans won’t stand a chance. However, with nine points on the table, I would buy a couple of more and take USC to cover.
The Trojans have been playing in excellent form recently. They’ve improved offensively a lot, and freshman forward Evan Mobley (16.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG) has become a dominant force at the low post. The Trojans have to bring their best defense and need to slow down the tempo to keep this within ten points, and I think they’ll make this clash interesting to watch despite the Zags’ ridiculously prolific offense.
Pick: Take USC +11.0 at -143
As I’ve said above, the Trojans have to slow down things as much as they can and force Gonzaga into half-court basketball. The Zags average 74.2 possessions per 40 minutes, playing at the sixth-fastest pace in the country, while the Trojans record only 67.0 possessions per 40 minutes (234th in the country).
Slowing down the Zags is a tall task, but that’s the only way USC can pull off an upset. Give me the under on the totals.
Pick: Go under 155.0 points at -110