Kansas head coach Bill Self directs his team during the second half of a first-round game against Eastern Washington in the NCAA college basketball tournament at Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
- The No. 3 seed Kansas Jayhawks face the No. 6 USC Trojans Oregon State Beavers in a West Region Round of 32 matchup
- The Jayhawks beat a feisty No. 14 seed Eastern Washington Eagles squad Saturday, while USC eliminated No. 11 Drake to advance
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
No. 3 seed Kansas Jayhawks (21-8, 12-6 Big 12), who have won nine of their last 10 games, face the No. 6 seed USC Trojans (23-7, 15-5 Pac-12) in a West Region Round of 32 matchup Monday, March 22 in Indianapolis, tipoff TBD.
KU got past a pair of brilliant performances by the EWU Groves Bros, who combined to put up 58 points, in a 93-84 victory. With the win, Bill Self’s program advances out of the first round for a 14th straight time. Meantime, Southern California beat Drake 72-56 to reach the Round of 32 for only the second time since 2009.
Now, USC is a slight favorite to knock off Kansas and reach the Sweet 16.
USC vs Kansas Odds
|USC||-1 (-110)||-118||O 134 (-110)|
|Kansas||+1 (-110)||+100||U 134 (-110)|
Odds as of March 20 at FanDuel
He Ain’t Heavy
Evan Mobley gets most of the attention when it comes to USC basketball — and rightfully so. The 7-foot former McDonald’s All-American became the first player to ever win Pac-12 Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year all in the same season. He scored a team-high 17 points in SC’s 16-point victory over the Bulldogs. But it was his older brother Isaiah who was just as impressive Saturday.
Clear the lane for Isaiah Mobley 😤@USC_Hoops | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/OoQiOZ4jcX
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 20, 2021
Isaiah, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, is a talent in his own right. He finished with 15 points, five rebounds and two assists against the Bulldogs. And with these sibling Twin Towers doing their thing, the Trojans are capable of making a deep run.
Evan Mobley is gonna be a top 3 pick and that’s all well and good.
But Isaiah Mobley is the engine of this USC team.
They are absolutely different when he is on the floor.
— Korbett Koselak 🎤 (@Korbett_Koselak) March 20, 2021
Andy Enfield, the conference Coach of the Year, has been here before. He’s now taken the Trojan program to three NCAA Tournaments and a pair of Round of 32 appearances. But the 51-year-old made a name for himself eight years ago, taking Florida Gulf Coast University to the Sweet 16 — becoming the first No. 15 seed in tourney history to do so.
Whether or not he’s able to take the Trojans to the regionals for the first time in 12 years depends on if his team can continue to get scoring outside the Mobley Bros. — and if they can stop a certain recovering Jayhawk.
Self only wanted to play David McCormack about 10 minutes a half after the junior forward’s bout with COVID-19. But the energizer ended up playing 25, scoring 22 points and nine rebounds in an effort that somehow neutralized Tanner Jacobs’ 35-point outing and younger brother Jacob’s 23-point day.
Kansas was down 10 in the second half, but McCormack and Co. fought back to move on with the nine-point victory. Now, the Big 12 blue blood wonders if it will get Jalen Wilson back for the USC game. The Jayhawks’ leading rebounder (who grabbed 8.2 boards per game this season) is due to finish his quarantine period on Sunday following his bout with coronavirus. But knowing McCormack is back might be good enough for KU.
David McCormack was hands-on-knees exhausted this half and he’s still put in 18 points and 8 rebounds while guarding a guy going off for his career high. He’s been a star.
— Rock Chalk Blog (@RockChalkBlog) March 20, 2021
You have to figure adrenaline helped McCormack get through Saturday with his conditioning limited over the last week. There could be a let down Monday. Or it could go the other way — and he’s just getting warmed up now that he’s back. If so, USC will need to be ready for a complete game.
Self said after his team’s win that it has trouble with posts who can score. That was clearly evident against Eastern Washington and what the Groves Bros. were able to do against KU. Now, the Jayhawks face a second set of siblings in the Mobleys.
USC has Evan and Isaiah Mobley in the frontcourt. They are 7’0″ and 6’10” respectively and average a combined 26 points and 16 rebounds. David McCormack, who is usually the tallest man on the court in every matchup (besides Texas), suddenly is the third tallest in this game.
— Rock Chalk Blog (@RockChalkBlog) March 20, 2021
KU’s Hall of Fame coach may have caught up in the moment a bit. In his team’s eight losses this season, only Gonzaga’s Drew Timme (25) truly had a big scoring night until the Groves Bros came along. But, with Isaiah’s ability to defend 5’s, McCormack figures to be somewhat neutralized the way he slowed down Tanner Groves in the second half just enough for Kansas to advance.
Add in the uncertain status of glass eater Wilson and you have an exceedingly compelling battle of the bigs shaping up.
So, with that in mind, whose guards are better? Well, Marcus Garret had a team-high 23 points for Kansas Saturday and knocked down four three-pointers after converting only 18 during the regular season. The Trojans possess solid guards, but the edge goes to Kansas in this spot — and that’s why the lean goes KU’s way.
The pick: Kansas +1 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.