March Madness Round 1 Game: Boston College Eagles vs. USC Trojans Preview and Pick

No. 7 Boston College Eagles (22-11), +2.5, o/u 135.5 vs. No. 10 USC Trojans (21-12), Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN, Friday 7:20 p.m. Eastern

By Oracle of

Friday nights match up between 7-seed Boston College and 10-seed USC isnt necessarily making the headlines or running printers out of ink, but it might be one of the most undervalued games out there.

The winner of Fridays contest, which will be aired on CBS at 7:20 p.m. Eastern, will more than likely get a shot at second-seeded Michigan St. in the second round. Both teams, as well as Tim Floyd and Al Skinner, knows MSU is one of the weakest two-seed teams.

But I digress, because, well, so would both coaches of the respective teams. The usual coach speak of one game at a time comes to play here.

USC only made it to The Dance because of a miraculous run in the Pac-10 tournament, where a mix of young guns and veterans finally molded together at the right time of the year.

Meanwhile, Boston College is an at-large bid from the ACC, as they have impressive wins against Duke and North Carolina this year, but have also faltered against the likes of Harvard.

In this somewhat rare case, the books actually have the 10-seed Trojans a slim 2.5 point favorites to open up, while the over/under stands at 135.5.

The line has shifted both ways, with some sportsbooks holding USC as a 3-point winner and some a 2-point victor. The under can also be played a 136 at several online bookies.

Both teams are slightly above .500 ATS on the year, with BC holding a 15-13 mark while USC is at 17-14.

The Trojans put a nice run together at the end of the year, beating Oregon and Oregon State to end the regular season. They went on to beat some of the top teams in the Pac-10 tourney, including California, UCLA and Arizona St.

However, before that, USC lost 6 of 7games and were seemingly bound for the NIT. But with the emergence of freshman phenom DeMar DeRozan, the Trojans find themselves as maybe a sleeper team thats getting hot at the right time.

DeRozan carried USC in the Pac-10 title game against ASU, playing all 40 minutes and scoring 25 points. DeRozan averaged just below 20 points during USCs last five wins of the season and has scored in double digits in seven straight contests.

Mix in the veteran leadership of Taj Gibson (14.3 points), Daniel Hackett (12.5) and Dwight Lewis (14.1), the Trojans have a recipe for success.

Their Achilles heel is their depth, as well as free-throw and three-point shooting. Their bench averages 17 points per game, as their sixth man Keith Wilkinson averages just 2.8.

USC shoots just 66.7% from the free-throw line (247th in the nation) and 32.9% from beyond the arc (231st). They rely heavily on defense to win their ball games.

Meanwhile, Boston College is a stark contrast to USC, which is what makes this game intriguing. The Eagles rely heavily on their tightly wound flex offense with the help of Tyrese Rices 17.1 points per game. Rice, the floor general, also dishes out 5.4 dimes.

They score 75 points per contest, but give up 70.5, which is 244th in the country. Theyre more of a finesse team as opposed to USC, so the outcome of this game, unfortunately, just might come down to how the officials call it.

The only time these two teams squared off was in the 2001 tournament when USC ousted BC.

Bettors should love the trend of Boston College covering the spread in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games. Theyre also 8-2 ATS on a neutral site as underdogs. These are two trends that bettors need to pay close attention to.

USC has some trends on their side too, though. Theyve covered all five spreads during their five game run to end the season. Theyre also 5-1 ATS in their last six games as a favorite.

With the Trojans slow-paced style and stingy defense, the under is 5-0 in their last five games against the ACC. And remarkably for the high-scoring Eagles, the under is 6-0 in their last six games overall.

Both teams should like the position they are in, as not many people are talking about these two teams doing a lot of damage in the Tourney. But when it comes to March Madness, its hard to count any team out.

Oracles Pick: If bettors are afraid of the tight line, the under is a great trend to follow here. Look for the under 136!