USC Trojans vs. California Golden Bears Preview and Pick

USC Trojans -1.5, 137 O/U (18-12) 14-14 ATS, 13-13 O/U vs. California Golden Bears +1.5, 137 O/U (22-9) 16-12 ATS, 15-12 O/U Thursday, March 12, 2009 Staples Center (18,997) Los Angeles, California 9:00 p.m. EST, TV: FSN and FSN West. Radio: 1150 AM (local, LA)

By Wilson of

The Pac-10 Tournament continues tonight when the No. 3 seed California Bears face the No. 6 seed USC Trojans in game three of four on the day. These two teams split their regular season matchups with each team getting a win on their home court. California held off the Trojans in overtime 81-78 while the Trojans returned the favor a month later in LA by downing the Golden Bears 73-62.

USC comes into the game averaging 68.2 points per outing and allowing 63.4 to their opponents. The Trojans last two games were both wins as they swept the Oregon schools. The most recent win at Oregon State proved how effective and balanced this team can be as Daniel Hackett, DeMar DeRozan, and Taj Gibson all scored in double figures. Hackett paced the Trojans with 17 points while DeRozan added 16 and Gibson followed with 14.

USC doesnt put up a ton of points which puts a serious focus on the defensive end of the floor where they only allow 63 per game. California plans to counter the Trojan defense with their 75 point average on offense. The Trojans have the talent to get it done as they were ranked earlier this No. 22 when they lost to the Golden Bears in overtime.

The Golden Bears lead the country in three-point shooting by sinking 43.8 percent of their attempts. Theo Robertson paces the team with 49.5 percent from behind the arc. Robertson and Jerome Randall both had high numbers recently as Randle knocked down a career-high 31 points at Arizona and another 24 at Arizona State. Robertson added 24 against the Wildcats and 19 at ASU. I would pay attention to these two guys if I was the opposing coach since they are scoring nearly 50 points combined per game as of late.

Defensively, the Bears are keeping teams to just 68 ppg which is considerably less than last years mark of 75.1. California has managed to restrict eight teams to just 40 percent shooting from the field this year.

The Golden Bears recently tuned up for post season play by applying a lopsided beating to the ASU Sun Devils 83-66. Cal has plenty of offensive weapons including sophomore Harper Kamp who has been a huge factor in their success all season. Kamp led the Bears in scoring against Oregon with 18, a career-high. Perhaps more importantly is Kamps roll on defense as he has come off the bench to spark the defense by using his strength and athleticism. Along with Randle and Robertson, the Bears should be in great shape to make a push for the upper part of the Pac-10 Tournament bracket, and maybe they might even make it to the championship game.

USC is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games versus California. The total has gone over in the last 6 meetings between these two squads. The online sportsbooks and the Vegas gurus have this matchup at nearly a pick with USC getting the line at -1.5 and the total is at 137. This time of year may be the most difficult to call a game especially with this tight of a spread but isnt that part of the fun?

USCs coach, Tim Floyd (who reminds me of a young Harrison Ford) is worth the price of admission as he is a great sideline sideshow with the amount of intense emotion that he shows, but Floyd knows how to win and he has proven that much in recent years. Floyd is in his 4th year at USC and 21st overall. This game will be well coached and should be a classic to watch.

Wilsons Pick: California 70, USC 69. Luck to ya.