Stanford forward Oscar da Silva (13) jogs back on defense after scoring a basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Pete Caster)
- USC has lost two games in a row and fallen out of the AP Top 25 as it prepares for its final Pac-12 home game against Stanford at 10:30 pm ET on Wednesday
- Stanford has lost three straight games and has played the last two without Pac-12 player of the year candidate Oscar da Silva
- Check the odds, analysis and betting prediction, below
USC (19-6, 13-5, Pac-12 ) has lost two games in a row and three out of four as it enters its final Pac-12 home game against Stanford. The Trojans were seemingly in command of the conference race before suffering their first two-game losing streak of the season.
Stanford (14-11, 10-9) has lost three in a row and has struggled without Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate Oscar Da Silva, who suffered a foot injury in practice last Wednesday and did not play in home losses to Oregon and Oregon State last weekend.
Stanford vs USC Odds
|Stanford Cardinal||+290||+7.5 (-110)||137 (Ov-116)|
|USC Trojans||-360||-7.5 (-110)||137 (Un-106)|
Odds from FanDuel on March 2.
USC was headed toward its first Pac-12 title since a co-championship in 1984-85 before losses to Arizona at home and Colorado and Utah on the road last weekend, its worst stretch of the season. The Trojans lost to the Rocky Mountain schools by a combined 28 points.
Da Silva, who is averaging 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds, is a must-play if Stanford is to have a shot at USC and 7’0 forward Evan Mobley.
Stanford Needs a Resumé-Builder
Stanford has been on the NCAA Tournament bubble most of the season, seemingly just on the right side of the invitation list, but its damaging 11-point home loss to Oregon State on Saturday put it in great jeopardy.
The Cardinal are listed among the “first four out” in the most optimistic recent bracket projections, although it certainly has a case to make the field.
Stanford is one of only 11 NCAA Division I teams — and the only team in the Pac-12 — with four Quad 1 victories and six road victories. Each of the other 10 is ranked in the AP Top 25. Stanford would become one of 18 teams (as of March 1) with five Quad 1 wins should it beat USC.
USC, which is safely in the 68-team NCAA field, could draw motivation from the fact it can still win a share of the Pac-12 title, although it would take a perfect storm.
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First Meeting Was Anyone’s Game
The Cardinal could have had that fifth Quad 1 victory had it held a seven-point lead in the final nine minutes in the first game against USC, in which the Trojans rallied for a 72-66 victory in the Cardinal’s first true home game at Maples Pavilion.
Evan Mobley had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and his activity around the basket forced da SIlva into foul trouble, the deciding factor. Mobley drew two shooting fouls on da Silva, who had a season-low nine points and four rebounds in 24 minutes while playing with four fouls.
Mobley also blocked a reverse layup attempt by da Silva in the final minute to set up the Tahj Eaddy’s deciding basket.
Stanford made 51.7% of its field goal attempts in that game, still the only team to shoot at least 50% against the Trojans, but committed 15 turnovers, five more than USC.
Sophomore forward Jaiden Delaire and freshman point guard Michael O’Connell had breakout games in that one, when Delaire had a career-high 22 points and O’Connell had a career-high 20. Delaire has scored in double figures in 13 of the last 16.
USC’s Distance Defense Declining
USC has held opponents to 39.3% shooting from the field this season, 13th in Division I, second to Michigan among Power Six teams and first in the Pac-12, but that number has been rising.
Recent opponents have found mark from three-point range, hitting 44-of-86 from distance (51.2%). USC’s last five opponents have shot at least 40 percent from 3-point range after only three of the previous 20 had done so.
Stanford made 7-of-16 threes in the first meeting, with Delaire and O’Connell hitting two apiece.
Mobley Playing Like a One-and-Done
Freshman Evan Mobley is projected to be among the top five picks in the 2021 NBA draft if he opts to leave school, and his unique set of numbers provide ample evidence.
Mobley is averaging 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.9 blocked shots per game, the only Division I player to reach those totals. He is a Jabbar Award finalist for the best center in the nation and a Naismith national defensive player of the year finalist.
At the same time, Colorado and Utah had success swarming Mobley and making other Trojans beat them last weekend. Mobley had 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting combined, and the Utes limited him to two field goals and seven shots in their 71-61 victory.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, a 6-9 former NBA player, has shut down Mobley twice this season.
Da Silva’s condition must be monitored, but USC should have both talent and motivation enough to get back on track.
The pick: USC -7.5 (-110)
Jack has covered college and professional sports for various Arizona media outlets and has written for the AP, USA Today and Baseball America, among others. He staffed the 2015-17 World Series and has staffed four Super Bowls.