NCAA USC basketball trying to ‘Fight On’ through tough season

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They say every dog has its day, but for USC basketball, they’re finding that hard to believe.

It’s been a tough season for the school that prides itself in all athletics with “Fight On’ being the battle cry from the Spirit of Troy marching band. The more appropriate term for this season’s basketball program should be ‘Roll Over’ as the Trojans have gone 6-20 and 1-12 in Pac-12 play.

For Las Vegas bettors, they are loving USC basketball because they have become one of the most reliable bets of the season. It’s supposed to get tougher to handicap when conference play starts, but USC has made it easier than ever by just betting against them.

Following Sunday’s 59-47 home loss to Stanford, USC has not covered in four straight games, and have gone 3-10 against-the-spread in conference play. Their only win since beating TCU in mid-December was beating the Pac-12’s second worst team, Utah, three weeks ago.

“It is incumbent to try our hardest as we go down the stretch,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said before their game Sunday. “Our circumstance stinks. It’s the culmination of a lot of things. (But) we need to keep the integrity of playing hard every day.You have a job to do and you do it as hard as you can as long as you can.”

The remaining schedule for the Trojans doesn’t look promising for a win, playing at Arizona and Arizona State this weekend and closing out with Washington and Washington State at home. They’ll be the No. 12 seed in the Pac-12 tournament with a first round game that looks to be either against Oregon, Colorado or Arizona as the No. 5 seed.

It’s odd that USC would be at the depths of where they’re at now. Last season they looked to be on the rise following the shame that O.J. Mayo and Tim Floyd put the program in that led to a forfeiture of all wins in 2007-2008 and a one year postseason ban. Floyd, who claimed to not know anything about payments to Mayo, is head coach of UTEP with no sanctions placed on him personally.

There’s always next year, ‘Fight On!’

Mighty Sparty

No. 12 Michigan State’s impressive 58-48 win at No. 3 Ohio State Saturday as 9-point underdogs put them in a tie atop the Big Ten standings with the Buckeyes at 9-3. The Spartans lost their first two games of the season to North Carolina and Duke, but then reeled off 15 wins in a row before losing at Northwestern and Michigan. Two weeks later they experienced another bad loss at Illinois, but since then have won and covered their last three.

In Saturday’s game at Columbus, they harassed Jared Sullinger all day and forced him into a rare, dubious triple-double (17 PTS – 16 REB – 10 TO’s) on 5-of-15 shooting. Because this Michigan State team is so sound with defending and rebounding, they have held true, or better, to their rating and have been one of the better teams ATS this season.

The Spartans have covered 10 of their last 13 with their only non-covers coming on the road in losses. They still have three tough road games left at Purdue, Minnesota and Indiana, then close out the season with a match against the Buckeyes at home March 4.

Looking like best team from the top RPI conference, it may not be a bad bet to take a chance on the Spartans to win the NCAA Tournament at the 20-1 odds offered at the LVH Super Book. Defense doesn’t always win championships in college basketball, but it will keep you in games on a poor shooting night.

Hot Teams

Delaware, out of nowhere, has won and covered its last four games — three of which came as underdogs including a big 80-77 win at Georgia State last Saturday getting 10½ points. The Hens have now covered 7 of 8.

North Texas continues to cover games at a rapid pace making it 11 straight games with its trip to Florida for two games last week. Still not quite sure how they blew a big lead to Florida Atlantic to get to overtime and then lose by 5, but they were getting +5½.

Louisiana-Monroe has covered in four straight games despite being in the midst of an eight game losing streak. They’ve been big underdogs for most of the year. In fact, they‘ve been the underdog in every game they played this season, but have gone 10-9 ATS.

Tennessee State is on a seven game winning streak and has covered its last four, including Thursday’s big upset win at Murray State as 12-point underdogs. For Murray State, perhaps the loss is what they needed to re-focus on the season and lose the thought of going undefeated. They handled Austin Peay by 19 on Saturday, their first cover in four weeks.

Yale has won four of their last five games and covered four games in a row. Boston College is in the same boat playing great lately with four straight covers, including a big win as 14-point underdogs against Florida State last Wednesday. The Seminoles have not covered in their last three games after reeling off six straight.

Louisville had won and covered its last six games heading into Monday night’s home game against Syracuse.

Cold Teams

Creighton has lost their last three games, all of which they were favored in. The 21 point beatdown on its home court Saturday by Wichita State may be an indication this tired team is ripe to bet against. In a week-and-a-half, they have gone from leading the MVC to being two full games behind Wichita State.

Middle Tennessee State has won three of their last four, but hasn’t covered any of the four. Virginia Tech has gone 1-10 in its last 11 ATS and haven’t covered their last 6. West Virginia has cooled considerably losing five of their last six and covering only once in their last seven.

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