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UCLA

at

USC

College Basketball Pick

1/25/17

For the first time all season, UCLA has to deal with a bit of adversity after getting beat on its home court by what looked like a superior Arizona team. The Bruins had a No. 1 seed in their sights, but this loss changes things for them as they still have to travel to Arizona later in the season. Wednesday's game isn't easy by any means either, with USC, while struggling, still a solid team.

The Trojans also lost to that Arizona team earlier in the week, but in a lower scoring game. The difference is that USC was also blown out by Oregon and Utah. To help in this game and give UCLA some trouble is that USC plays much better at home. The obvious problem for the Trojans in this game will be trying to keep up or even slow down this UCLA offense. For starters, UCLA has one of the best offenses in the nation, while USC has some of the worst numbers in the conference. If the Trojans can't win on the defensive end, it's hard to see their offense keeping up on the other end.

As a positive, Arizona beat UCLA by winning on the glass and that's something USC could focus its game on, most likely through leading scorer Chimezie Metu (14.0 ppg, 7.8 reb). But he won't be able to do everything because it's not like UCLA is size-deficient with both TJ Leaf and Thomas Welsh effective options. For the Trojans to compete, they'll need Jordan McLaughlin, Elijah Stewart and De'Anthony Melton to all have above average games on the perimeter. If Stewart can get hot from deep, that will help, but his inconsistencies are troubling. He had five threes in the loss to Arizona, yet scored zero points at Utah a week prior. He's coming off a 29-point effort against Arizona State, but USC still barely won that game.

If USC can't have one of its better games of the season offensively, it could be a long day because UCLA will be plenty motivated in this one coming off a loss. It's hard to see the Trojans stopping the Bruins all that effectively. Leaf and Welsh can both score from in and outside the paint. Then of course there's freshman Lonzo Ball, who runs the show with Bryce Alford shooting above 46% from three-point range. The offensive weapons are endless for this UCLA team and it's going to take a monumental effort for USC to stop them.

The Trojans have played better defense at home, but on the road have allowed 80-plus points to Utah and Oregon, which isn't a good sign for this game. To go with that, the only time USC scored more than 73 points in a Pac-12 game this season came on Sunday against ASU and the Trojans barely won that game. So if UCLA hits below its season average, USC will be in business, but that's a hard thing to bet on, given the talent on this UCLA team coming off a loss.

UCLA by 9

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