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Late night Friday action in the Galen Center features the WCC's Portland Pilots and the Pac-12's USC Trojans. Portland won their opened against Division III school Willamette 86-36. The Trojans won their opener against Florida A&M 77-48. This is the first ever meeting between these two schools. USC opened as 20 point favorites and the total opened at 143 and a half. Tip is set for 11:05 PM ET and the game will be view-able on the Pac-12 Network.
Pilots Pushing For Better SeasonThe Portland Pilots are in an awkward spot as a program after winning their opener against Willamette 86-36. Coach Terry Porter's tenure has been less than ideal coming off of a win-less conference campaign last season and coach Porter has amassed a 28-69 record in his three years of service. He saw six players with eligibility remaining enter the transfer portal, including his own son Franklin, after a very disappointing 7-25 season. He brings in a pair of graduate transfers in Isaiah White from Maine and Lavar Harewood from South Carolina State in order to provide the team with needed playing experience. Neither player was very impressive last year, however, they both come from struggling programs much like Portland and maybe a good fit for coach Porter's scheme of play.
The Pilots only good news in the off-season was that guard JoJo Walker decided to stay and finish his college career in Portland. He alongside White are the only players on the roster who averaged double-digit points last season, and their offense will be relied on for a push. The team will have to find some kind of production outside of the two as Walker and White can't score all of the points and will draw extra defensive attention. Coach's son Malcolm Porter will find himself earning more minutes after the roster shake-up and he looks to make the most of that time. The Pilots were one of the worst rebounding teams in the country last year, and they bring in seven-footer Cody Collinsworth to try and hopefully adjust that.
High Expectations At USCDespite a poor showing last season, there is optimism surrounding this USC program, and rightfully so after coach Andy Enfield had an outstanding recruiting run. He brings in an elite six-man class headed by five-star recruits Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu. They also bring in graduate transfer Daniel Utomi who comes from Akron where he was the team's leading scorer and three-point shooter. Another graduate transfer guard by the name of Quinton Adlesh comes in from Columbia looks to provide support for the Trojans attack. USC took care of business in their opener against Florida A&M 77-48 and look to have much of the same type of outing this time around.
Senior forward Nick Rakocevic is the team's leading returning scorer and rebounder putting up 14.7 points and 9.3 rebounds a game last season. He alongside senior guard Jonah Mathews are the only returning starters for coach Enfield. Mathews made 78 threes and averaged 12.6 points per game a season ago. The USC Trojans will rely heavily on a mixture of freshman sensations and a group of trusted veterans to give themselves a boost to possibly make an NCAA tournament run this season and maybe even a Pac-12 title given how open the conference appears this year.
Trends for this game provided by covers.com
- Pilots are 3-13-1 ATS their last 17 games versus the Pac-12 conference
- Trojans are 8-1 ATS their last 9 games versus West Coast Conference opponents
- Trojans are 7-3 ATS their last 10 home games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like the Trojans to cover this big number here on Friday night. The USC Trojans had an outstanding off-season in terms of recruiting and return a pair of trusted starters who are excellent scorers, combining to put up 27.3 points per game last season. I expect five star recruits Mobley and Okongwu to have stellar seasons and possibly become one and done players and move onto the NBA next season. The Trojans have professional talent all up and down this roster. Portland struggled mightily last season and I expect much of the same again this year. Beating a Division III school shouldn't impress anyone, and I don't expect the Pilots to be able to play to the level of the USC Trojans.
Prediction: USC Trojans -20
Full-Game Total Pick
Both of these teams possess the shooting ability to light the scoreboard up. The Trojans have an absolutely stacked roster with capable shooters all over the place, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them score at least 90 in this match. I expect this game to get ugly quickly and Portland to be in catch up mode most of the night. The Pilots should be able to at least score 60 in this match, though, which would give us our over. Expect no lack of offensive firepower in this early season contest between two schools who look to improve after poor showings a year ago.
Prediction: Over 143.5