#6 USC Trojans vs. #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs Spread, Line, Odds, Predictions, Picks, and Betting Preview for NCAA Basketball Game
#6 USC Trojans vs. #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs Bulldogs Game Information
#6 USC Trojans (25-7) vs. #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (29-0)
Time: 7:15 p.m. ET
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium Equality (North)
TV Coverage: TBS
#6 USC Trojans vs. #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs Moneyline, Spread, Total, and Odds
Moneyline: (Open: USC +344 / Gonzaga -440) (Current: USC +350 / Gonzaga -450)
Spread: (Open: Gonzaga -9) (Current: Gonzaga -9)
Total: (Open: 155.5) (Current: 154)
NCAA Championship Odds: USC +1300 / Gonzaga +135
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#6 USC Trojans vs. #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs News and Notes
There are no players listed on the injury report for either team.
- USC is 7-2 ATS in their last nine NCAA Tournament games as an underdog.
- The total is 5-1-1 in USC’s last games following an ATS win.
- Gonzaga is 6-1 ATS in their last six games on a neutral floor as a favorite.
- Gonzaga is 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
- The total is 5-1 to the over in Gonzaga’s last six games following an ATS win.
#6 USC Trojans vs. #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs Predictions and Picks
With the NCAA Tournament field trimmed down to eight teams, the games will transition to Lucas Oil Stadium divided into two basketball courts during the tournament named Unity and Equality to emphasize awareness around inclusion and social justice issues.
It’s beginning to look a lot like #MarchMadness…🎶
Lucas Oil Stadium is prepped and ready for the first and second round of the NCAA tournament and the Sweet 16! pic.twitter.com/JTm4LOXlsL
— Indiana Sports Corp (@IndSportsCorp) March 19, 2021
Usually, when the games move to a bigger venue, there are viable concerns about sightlines being an issue. That could explain why the total has ticked down from 155.5 to 154. I cashed a ticket on the under in the Creighton-Gonzaga game, but I won’t be running to the window to make the same play this time around. Instead, this line move creates some value on Gonzaga’s team total, which currently sits at 38.5.
One of my favorite stats to use in basketball is effective field goal percentage because it’s adjusted to account for three-point field goals vs. two-point field goals. In this category, Gonzaga actually led the country with an effective field goal percentage of 61.2%. And over their last three games, they’ve been even better at 63.7%. As teams get deeper into the tournament, I think those that can create easier baskets for themselves are more likely to have success, and Gonzaga’s continuity offense does exactly that.
Bulldogs head coach Mark Few has evolved his continuity offense to add more of a European flair. In fact, he’s even recruiting players from overseas who are adept at executing the offense. It’s one thing to run a motion offense with a few ball screens, but it’s another thing when you run a continuity offense where every player on the court is a skilled ball handler. Gonzaga can draw post defenders out to the perimeter because their big men can handle the basketball. This makes their continuity much more fluid in that they’re able to run it from sideline to sideline, which makes it more difficult for them to anticipate which direction the ball screens are coming from.
Below are just a few advantages from this type of offense, according to breakthroughbasketball.com:
- Very hard to guard – The defense has to be very adept at fighting through screens. You’ll notice that defenses might guard the first screen very well or even the second, but after three, four, five, or even six screens, the defense will eventually break down.
- Constant continuity – The offense has constant continuity with movement across the court, which causes the defense to work harder. As a result, you’ll be able to exploit gaps in their defense.
- Spreads floor – It spreads the floor, makes the defense work harder, and opens up gaps for the offense, making it easier to attack the basket.
- Take advantage of having good post players – With your big guys constantly setting screens, a mismatch is bound to be exposed on a switch or bad defensive play. As soon as this happens, this offense will have your bigs and your guards ready to attack.
- Tweakable – Coaches can tweak the continuity offense to work for their personnel. They can hide players and set them as screeners or have the best player be the screener to take advantage of mismatches.
Of course, none of this is possible without the right players on the roster. An average Gonzaga possession is around 14 seconds, and despite getting shots up early in the shot clock, their shot selection remains of the highest quality. Gonzaga is 19th in the country with 76.3 possessions per game. As teams look to sit back defensively to protect against down screens, the Bulldogs have exploited the space at the perimeter.
Per TeamRankings.com, Gonzaga is averaging 10.3 three-pointers over their last three games, which is above their season average of 7.6 per game. I expect that they’ll pose a greater threat on the perimeter than USC’s last three opponents, who’ve struggled recently from beyond the arc. I think that the Mobley brothers can be vulnerable once you draw them away from the paint, as Gonzaga’s side-to-side ball movement will create opportune cutting angles to attack the basket.
This is easily the best Gonzaga team that Mark Few has had, and the stats more than support it. In fact, coming into the tournament, their adjusted offensive efficiency (126.1) was on pace to be the highest of any year in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings.
Gonzaga has cleared 40 points in the first half of every game this tournament, and during that same span, they’re attempting four more three-pointers per game (24.3) than their season average of 20.4.
Sum it all up, and I like their chances to surpass their first-half team total of 38.5 points.
The Pick: Gonzaga 1H team total over – 38.5 or better