NCAA Basketball: USC/Gonzaga Preview, Odds and Prediction - 03/30/2021

by Big Al Staff

USC plays Gonzaga in an Elite 8 matchup in the East region on TBS at 7:15 PM ET.

USC reached the West regional final with their 82-68 victory against Oregon as a 2-point favorite on Sunday. The Trojans have won six of their last seven games. Isaiah White paved the way with 22 points. The senior guard is fifth on the team with a 7.7 points-per-game scoring average. Evan Mobley scored 10 points on four of six shooting. The 7’0 freshman leads the team with 16.3 points-per-game and 8.8 rebounds-per-game.

Andy Enfield has led the program to their first Elite 8 in twenty years. They rank sixth in the nation at kenpom with a 25-7 record. They lost in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals to Colorado, which led them to get a six seed in the East region.

USC ranks 14th in the adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They rebound 35.4% of their missed shots, ranking 12th in the nation. The Trojans are fourth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They are sixth in opponent’s effective field goal percentage with a 43.6% clip due to their stout defense inside the arc as they hold their opponents to 41.5% shooting of their 2-point shots, which is the lowest mark in the nation. Free throw shooting can be frustrating with this team. They only make 64.6% of their shots at the charity stripe, the 327th lowest mark in the nation.

Gonzaga advanced to the Elite 8 with their 83-65 win against Creighton as a 12.5-point favorite on Sunday. Drew Timme scored 22 points while assisting on another four baskets. The sophomore scores 18.9 points-per-game and averages 7.2 rebounds-per-game. Andrew Nembhard had 17 points with eight assists. The junior is fifth on the team with a 9.2 points-per-game scoring average.

The Bulldogs are the last remaining undefeated team in the nation with a 29-0 record to accompany their number one ranking and top-rating at kenpom. They have rattled off 33 straight victories going back to last season, and they have won 26 in a row by double-digits. Gonzaga played a rigorous non-conference schedule that included powerhouses in Kansas, West Virginia, Virginia, and Iowa. The Bulldogs have the country's top adjusted offensive efficiency number according to metrics at kenpom. Their effective field goal percentage of 61.2% is tops nationally. The Zags are seventh nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They limit their opponents to rebound 23.0% of their missed shots, 18th best in the nation. If there is a crack in the armor, it might start with their half-court defense. Their opponents have an effective field goal percentage of 47.2%, which is only 45th nationally.

Mark Few returned three players from his seven-man rotation that finished 31-2 last season and looked poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament as a number one seed. Senior Corey Kispert leads the team this year with a 19.0 points-per-game after contributing 13.9 points-per-game last season. Kispert is also averaging 4.9 rebounds-per-game and 1.7 assists-per-game. Jalen Suggs is a five-star freshman who is averaging 13.9 points-per-game, 5.3 rebounds-per-game, and 4.4 assists-per-game. This group may be Few’s most talented roster in his 22 seasons as the Gonzaga head coach.

Lucas Oil Stadium is the site. BookMaker lists Gonzaga as an 8.5-point favorite with the total set at 153.

Computer prediction:  Gonzaga 81 USC 72

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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