Sunday's Pac-12 Action
February 22, 2014
By David Schwab
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Saving the best for last in men’s college basketball this weekend, the Pac-12 will take center stage on Sunday night with three intriguing matchups. At the top of the list is Arizona State against Utah. The Sun Devils are still in the hunt for the regular season conference title, but they cannot afford any more losses with just six games left on the slate.
Arizona State Sun Devils at Utah Utes (ESPNU, 8:00 p.m. ET)
The highlight of the Sun Devils’ season so far was a 69-66 overtime victory over then-No. 2 Arizona as 5 ½-point home underdogs on Feb. 14. They have had their share of disappointments as well with an 8-5 straight-up record in conference play. Arizona State has failed to cover in seven of its last 10 games as part of an overall record of 12-12 against the spread. The total has stayed UNDER in 14 of 23 games this year.
Jahii Carson leads the Sun Devils in scoring with 18.8 points per game and Jermaine Marshall has also been very productive with 15.8 points while shooting an impressive 42.5 percent from 3-point range. The team is averaging 75.8 PPG and shooting 45.7 percent from the floor.
Utah hung tough in this past Wednesday’s 67-63 loss to Arizona, but still could not cover as a 3 ½-point home underdog. The Utes have now gone 3-5 SU in their last eight games and they are 2-4 ATS in their last six outings. The total ended as a PUSH against the Wildcats on a 130-point closing line after going OVER in six of their last nine games.
The Utes match up well against Arizona State with 78.1 PPG and a field goal percentage of 49.7 percent. Delon Wright is averaging 16 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists and Jordan Loveridge has also been a force with 15.2 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds.
Utah comes into this conference clash as a four-point home favorite over the Sun Devils.
Arizona State won the first meeting this season 79-75 just barely failing to cover the 4 ½-point closing line at home. The home team in this series has now won eight of the last nine meetings SU, but Utah has paid off in the last six meetings ATS. The total went OVER the 135 ½-point line in that first game after staying UNDER in the previous four meetings.
USC Trojans at California Golden Bears (FOX Sports 1, 8:00 p.m. ET)
It has been one disappointment after another for the Trojans this season in conference play with just one SU victory against 12 losses. Their current losing streak reached seven games with a dismal 80-59 pounding at the hands of Stanford as 14-point road underdogs this past Thursday. USC has now failed to cover in its last four contests and it is a costly 3-10 ATS against the Pac-12 this year.
The Trojans’ offense has been effective for the most part with an average of 71.3 points led by Byron Wesley’s 17.6 PPG. Unfortunately, they have one of the worst defenses in Division I. USC is giving-up an average of 75.8 points a game, but this number has climbed its way to 81 points in conference play.
California made some noise earlier this month by ending Arizona’s 21-game winning streak in a 60-58 victory as a six-point home favorite, but its overall play has been spotty at best. The Golden Bears are just 3-5 SU in their last eight games including a 77-69 loss to USC on Jan. 22 as eight-point road favorites. They are 8-5 SU in the Pac-12 and 17-9 SU overall but they have fallen to 12-13 ATS after failing to cover in six of their last eight games.
The Golden Bears are averaging 74.6 points and pulling down 37 rebounds. Justin Cobbs has been the team’s leading scorer with 15.7 PPG and Richard Solomon has led the way under the boards with an average of 10.2 rebounds.
California opened as a 14 ½-point home favorite to avenge that earlier loss to the Trojans.
USC has gone 9-3-1 ATS in the last 13 meetings including a perfect 5-0-1 mark ATS on the road against the Golden Bears. The total has gone OVER in 16 of the last 22 meetings overall and in seven of the last nine meetings at Cal.
Washington State Cougars at Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 Network, 9:00 p.m. ET)
The Cougars are another team that has been beaten up in conference play with a SU record of 2-12. They were hammered by Oregon 71-44 in the first meeting this season as 6 ½-point home underdogs. Washington State has been a bit more competitive since that loss with a 3-3 mark ATS (1-5 SU) after failing to cover in six of its first eight conference games. The total has stayed UNDER in eight of 14 games in the Pac-12.
Scoring has been a major issue for Washington State with an average of just 62.6 PPG while shooting 40.9 percent from the field. Defensively, the Cougars are allowing an average of 66.7 PPG, but opposing teams have exceeded this number in six of their last seven games.
At one time Oregon was not only ranked No. 10 in the AP Top 25, it was considered a serious contender for the Pac-12 title. A perfect 12-0 SU run through the nonconference portion of its schedule gave way to a 5-8 SU crawl through the conference so far. The Ducks have posted back-to-back SU victories over Oregon State and Washington in their past two games in an attempt to turn things around. They have covered in three of their last four games, but overall they are a costly 4-9 ATS in conference play.
Oregon remains one of the highest scoring teams in the nation with 83.5 PPG and it is shooting 47.1 percent from the field. The Ducks have a foursome of players scoring in double figures led by Joseph Young’s 18.6 points. However they have had their issues slowing opponents down by allowing an average of 75.1 PPG.
The Ducks opened as 14 ½-point-point home favorites to complete the season sweep over Washington State.
Oregon brings six-game SU winning streak over the Cougars into Sunday’s matchup and a 7-3 edge ATS in the last 10 games. The total stayed UNDER the 134-point closing line in the first meeting this year after going OVER in three of the four previous games.
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