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Pac-12 Tournament: Game No. 8 Washington vs. No. 9 USC Preview and How to Watch

How to watch (and bet)

Date: Wednesday 03/13/24

Time of denunciation: 12:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: Huskies Gameday appKJR Sports Radio

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Betting line: Washington Huskies -7

2023-24 USC Trojans Stats:

Save: 14-17 (8-12)

Points for per game: 74.7 points per game (123rd)

Points against per game: 74.5 points per game (235th)

Adjusted offensive efficiency: 110.1 (112th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 102.7 (99th)

Strength of schedule: 36th

USC Key Players:

G- Isaiah Collier, Father. 6'5, 210: 16.6 ppg, 2.8 RPG, 4.2 apg, 48.8% FG, 32.9% 3pt, 67.8% FT

Collier was thought to be potentially the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft when he enrolled at USC, but he fought his way out of that spot. He has size, athleticism and can pass, which means he's top 3 in the Pac-12 in fouls committed per 40 minutes, steal rate and assist rate. But he averages over 3 turnovers per game and shoots just over 30% from the 3-point line, which simply isn't efficient enough to justify how often he shoots the ball. USC is just 2-4 this year when scoring 20+ points.

1st match against UW: 31 pts (14/19 FG), 0 reb, 2 ast

G- Boogie Ellis, Sr. 6'3, 190: 16.6 ppg, 3.5 RPG, 3.0 apg, 42.8% FG, 41.9% 3pt, 73.0% FT

Ellis plateaued as a player, but he did so as an all-conference level shooter, which is certainly pretty good. He's struggled from the FT line in Pac-12 play, but he's still shooting a career-high 41% from 3 while tying Collier for the lead in % of team shots taken. Husky fans probably remember when he eviscerated UW in Seattle last year with 27 points on 19 shots.

1st game against UW: 17 pts (6/13 FG), 4 reb, 3 TO

G- Kobe Johnson, Jr. 6'6, 200: 10.3 ppg, 4.2 RPG, 3.2 apg, 39.9% FG, 30.3% 3pt, 72.6% FT

Johnson entered the season with potential expectations for the Pac-12 DPOY and has not lived up to those expectations. His shooting percentages are down across the board with an increased usage rate on offense and his steal numbers are also down a bit from last year. He has the speed and length to chase Moses Wood around screens all night and give him problems.

1st game against UW: 6 pts (2/8 FG), 9 reb, 5 sat, 2 blk, 4 stl

F- DJ Rodman, Sr. 6'6, 225: 7.8 ppg, 4.9 RPG, 1.1 apg, 45.1% FG, 38.1% 3pt, 75.4% FT

The former Wazzu starter was traded to Los Angeles to be the glue for the Trojans and it didn't really work out. It's not exactly Rodman's fault whose advanced stats are strangely almost identical to last season, but his playing time has decreased on a busier roster. He has the size and physicality to compete with Keion Brooks on defense and has shot at least 38% from deep in 3 of the last 4 seasons.

1st game against UW: 17 pts, 6/7 FG, 6 reb, 3 ast

C- Joshua Morgan, Sr. 6'11, 225: 5.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.4 ppg, 55.9% FG, 59.7% FT

The Trojans took down a two-headed center monster in Morgan and sophomore Vince Iwuchukwu. Morgan is still a starter but has lost ground in minutes over the last few games. The former Long Beach State transfer is 2nd in the country in block rate but therefore unsurprisingly commits 6 fouls every 40 minutes which limits his ability to stay in games. Morgan will jump on every pump fake, so UW has to be patient all the way to the rim. He really doesn't like having to shoot the ball on offense and is a terrible rebounder for someone with his size and athleticism.

1st game against UW: 2 pts (0/2 FG), 3 reb, 1 blk, 2 stl

Perspectives

You'd think not much could have happened since I wrote my preview of the game a little less than 2 weeks ago so feel free to come back and laugh about it here. Obviously, something that's changed since then is that USC seemingly blew out Washington in Seattle, let the Huskies get back into it, and then held them at arm's length in the final minutes. Additionally, both of these teams had huge road wins against the two best teams in the conference.

And oh yeah, Mike Hopkins got fired.

Most people expected USC to be a surefire top 25 team this season and many considered them a fringe top 10 team. It seems like the Trojans, now that they are fully healthy and had a chance to gel, meeting expectations a little too late. HAS barttorvik.com you can sort the rankings for a specific date range and as of February 15, USC is the No. 17 team in the country. During this stretch, USC is 5-2 with its only losses coming in 2OT to Colorado and a narrow loss in Pullman. They have wins against Utah, UW and Arizona.

Washington, on the other hand, managed to achieve victory via ranked rivalry. Washington State. The air went out of the ball pretty quickly when Mike Hopkins was informed he was going to get fired at the end of Washington's playoff run.

This introduces the ultimate monkey wrench. Will the Huskies be motivated (phrase!) to try to win one last big game for their coach? Or are they going to be completely deflated and flat-footed with a leader who is in the ultimate lame duck situation. NBA scouts will be watching this game because of Isaiah Collier. It would behoove the Husky players to try to slow him down at least a little this time around.

I've been ridiculously bad at picking games for this Husky team all season. Every time they look down, they pass through. Every time they look like they're going to run, they shit on the bed. We now see both sides happening at the same time. On paper, they are facing a red-hot team that just beat them at home just 2 weeks ago. On the other hand, they just got their first real road win in 15 years, so something must be wrong, right?

My gut feeling is that this team fails to get it done and we see the Mike Hopkins era officially end in the first game of the last game. Pac-12 Tournament. Which means I'm picking a Husky win.

Prediction

My record this year: 19-12 Straight Up, 12-18-1 Against the Spread

Washington Huskies– 79, USC Trojans – 73

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