Although he's already averaging a double-double through three tournament games, No. 6 USC will need Evan Mobley to step up even more in their Elite 8 match against No. 1 Gonzaga.
It’s coming down to the wire in the NCAA Tournament and with the quality of teams left standing, there will be no more easy games for anyone. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are three wins away from a perfect season, but it only gets tougher from here. Standing in the Zags’ way is a very good USC Trojans team that is looking for their first Final Four appearance since 1954. Will Gonzaga continue to rout opponents, or can USC do what no other team has managed to do this year and beat take down the Bulldogs?
Southern California Trojans vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs NCAA Tournament Point Spread and Betting
We’ve reached the phase of the tournament where most bettors tend to feel more comfortable playing it safe with the favourite. The line has stayed steady and hasn’t moved since Gonzaga opened as 9-point favourites to win. Early bettors are favouring the Bulldogs by roughly a 60/40 split. The over/under is also seeing about a 60/40 split for the number to fall short of the 153.5 total. Gonzaga has hit the Over in seven of their last 10 games, which is likely a big reason for the large total. USC has done well when they’re not favoured, covering in nine of their last 13 games as an underdog. Gonzaga has also covered well, going 4-1 against the spread in their last five games.
(6) Southern California Trojans
USC has looked like they deserved to be seeded higher in this tournament. They’ve used a strong defence to gets wins of 16 points over Drake, 34 points over Kansas and 14 points over Oregon. The Trojans held Drake and Kansas to 29 per cent shooting and forced Oregon to shoot just 37 per cent from the field. What’s really interesting about USC so far, is Evan Mobley. After leading the Trojans in scoring during the regular season with 16.3 points per game, Mobley has put up just 10 points in each of the last two games. He is, however, averaging a double-double through three games (12.3 points, 10.7 rebounds) and has 2.7 blocks per game. USC has a legitimate shot to knock off a Bulldogs team that has committed 10+ turnovers in all three games of the tournament. If Mobley brings his game up to the level his was playing at in the regular season and the rest of the team continues to score, there is some serious upset potential in this contest.
(1) Gonzaga Bulldogs
Like their opponent, Gonzaga has also been crushing teams by double-digit margins this tournament. They beat Norfolk State by 34 points in the first round, Oklahoma by 16 in the second and Creighton by 18 in the third. One of the biggest factors for the Bulldogs is their dominance on the glass. They’ve out-rebounded opponents by 35 and outscored them by an average of 25.7 points through three games. Drew Timme led the way with 25 points and six rebounds in the Sweet 16, but between him, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga will always have at least one shooter go off for big points every game. This will be the toughest matchup of the year for the Bulldogs because of how defensively good their opponent is and how big the game is. Gonzaga needs to crash and bang with USC in the paint and force them to shoot from the line. USC’s free throw mark of 64.7 per cent is one of the worst numbers in the country. This will be a close game, but look for Gonzaga’s depth and experience to help them pull away late.