USC Trojans vs. Providence Friars Preview
Where: University of Dayton Arena — Dayton, Ohio
When: Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 9:10 PM ET
TV Broadcast: truTV
Writer’s Prediction: USC Trojans (-3)
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Betting on the USC Trojans (24-9)
The USC Trojans will be making their second consecutive trip to the tourney under fourth-year head coach Andy Enfield. The former FGCU coach has two career tournament wins, but is still looking for his first with the Trojans.
USC went 24-9 this season, their most wins since 2007, when they reached the regional semifinal under Tim Floyd. However, they’re just 11-9 (9-11 ATS) in their 20 games overall.
USC has some very good balance offensively. The Trojans have six players averaging 8 or more points this season, and averaged 78.7 points as a team (56th in the nation). They like to push the pace, get out on in transition, and spread the ball around their many capable offensive weapons.
The Trojans also have some very good size along the frontcourt, with Bennie Boatwright (6-10), Chimezie Metu (6-11) and Nick Rakocevic (6-11). With that size, they finished 11th in the nation in blocks per game. They weren’t a particularly great rebounding team, but they should be able to have a significant advantage on the boards against an undersized Providence team that’s just 268th in rebounding this season.
Betting on the Providence Friars (20-12)
Providence will be making its fourth NCAA tournament in a row under head coach Ed Cooley. In each of the Friars’ first three trips they won at least one game. They went 20-12 on the season, and 10-8 in Big East play. They finished the regular season very strongly, winning their final six conference games before falling in the first round of the Big East tournament to Creighton.
The Friars have been one of the more consistent teams in the country in covering the spread this season. They’ve gone an impressive 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games.
Although Providence isn’t the most prolific offense (just 70 PPG, 278th in the nation), it is fairly competent and like USC boasts some very good balance. Four Friars are averaging 10 or more points, led by junior Rodney Bullock (15.7 PPG). They have shooters all over the court, which opens up the floor for the offense.
The Friars are stronger on the defensive side of the ball, though. They’re ranked 33rd in defensive efficiency per KenPom.com, and they defend the 3-point line very well (just 32 percent allowed). However, they are lacking in frontcourt size, which could pose a problem against the length of USC.
USC (-3) has too much for Providence as the Trojans go through, 77-73.
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