Utah, USC looking for pivotal Pac-12 wins

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Vaughn Dalzell
·10 min read
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Oregon State at Utah (-3.5)

Mikael Jantunen returned to the Utes and it could not have come at a better time. Utah was on a four-game losing streak without him after Jantunen opted to go play for the Finnish national team. After completing quarantine protocols and missing the UCLA contest, he returned versus USC in winning fashion.

Utah beat USC, 71-61 and Jantunen recorded six points, seven rebounds, three assists and a 100.0 offensive rating (4th-highest on team) in 33 minutes. His defense helped slow down Evan and Isaiah Mobley, holding them to a combined 17 points on 4-of-14 from the field (28.5%).

Oregon State has had Utah's number recently, winning three straight versus Utah and four of the last five. However, the last three games have all come in Oregon (two) or on a neutral floor (Las Vegas).

In Salt Lake City, Utah, the Beavers are 2-6 all-time. Oregon State's last win at Utah came in 2019. Utah won the last home meeting (1/2/20) and won five of the last six at home versus Oregon State, dating back to 2012-13.

In the last five games, Oregon State's Ethan Thompson is averaging 17.2 points, while Jarod Lucas and Warith Alatishe are averaging 13.2 points and 10.8 points. In the three games prior to Jantunen's absence, Utah scored 77, 73 and 76 points and won three straight. With him, they have now won four straight games, five of the last six and six of the previous eight.

At 9-9 in the Pac-12 and 10-11 overall, Utah needs more wins on their resume for the NCAA Tournament. They host Oregon State and Arizona State (3/6) over the final two games. Oregon State beat Utah 74-56 (2/18) this season without Jantunen. That was the second game without him and this time around, Oregon State will not reach 74 points.

I will note, Oregon State has been on a hot streak. The Beavers won three of their last four games and covered in six straight. Regression from those ATS numbers is bound to hit and Oregon State lost five straight road games before beating Cal and Stanford on the road in the last two.

With Oregon State's two-game road winning streak, they have a chance to win three straight road games for the first time since 2003. Utah sits at ninth in the Pac-12 (7-10) and Oregon State seventh (9-9). Per Kenpom, Utah ranks 11th in the country in home-court advantage (4.1) and 14th in point margin (+10.5). Utah is 7-4 SU (63.6%) at home this season, while Oregon State is 3-6 SU (33.3%) on the road.

Oregon State has senior night versus Oregon (3/7) to end the season, so this game is of the utmost importance for Utah to come away with a victory. Utah is 1.5 games back of Oregon State in the standings and two games of Stanford for the sixth spot. Utah controls their own destiny to a better seed in Pac-12 Tournament.

Game Pick: Utah -3.5 (2u) - playable at -4

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George Washington (-7) vs Fordham

George Washington demolished Fordham at Fordham in the only meeting this season, 71-47. Now, the two meet in the first round of the A-10 Tournament, the winner taking on George Mason, who both teams lost to.

Fordham is one of the worst offensive teams in the country, ranking 344th in both three-goal percentage (26.9%) and two-point percentage (41.6%). The Rams also rank 347th in offensive field-goal percentage (41.1%) and 349th adjusted offensive efficiency (88.3).

At 2-11 on the season, Fordham's only wins were an upset over Dayton 55-54 (1/5) in the third game of the year and La Salle 76-68 (2/6), both at home.

George Washington has the 152nd ranked adjusted offensive efficiency (103.3) and primarily focused on interior scoring. The Colonials hit 51.2% of their two-pointers (117th) and 49.3% in league play (6th). Versus Fordham, George Washington hit 51.6% of their two-pointers (16/31) and 47.4% of their triples (9/19).

George Washington's only road win of the season came against Fordham, which is interesting given Fordham won four straight meetings, including all three last season. The difference this season lies mostly in one player, James Bishop.

Bishop is in his first year with George Washington, transferring from LSU. He finished the regular season as the A-10's leading scorer at 19.1 points per game and recorded 10 games of 20 or more points out of 15 contests. Bishop scored 23 on Fordham this season and I expect another 20-piece from the sophomore in the second meeting.

Fordham is 8-19 ATS (29.6%) in its last 27 games following an Under win and 5-14 ATS (26.3%) in the previous 19 games following a loss and an Under win per NBC's Top Trends.

George Washington was knocked out the opening round last year by Fordham. Expect revenge and a double-digit victory for the Colonials, much like the first meeting.

Game Pick: George Washington -7 (1u), George Washington ML and Utah ML Parlay (1u)

Boston College at Florida State (-19)

Boston College is coming off a 94-90 win at home over Notre Dame after news broke Rich Kelly will enter the transfer portal, joining Wynston Tabbs. Kelly averaged 11.0 points per game and shot 42% from the field and 37% from deep. The Notre Dame win was the first game without Kelly. Tabbs has not played since Jan. 16.

On the other hand, Florida State was feasting on opponents with four straight wins before falling apart in the second half versus North Carolina. The Seminoles squandered a 12-point halftime lead, losing by eight to the Tarheels. Florida State (10-3) is a half-game up on Virginia (12-4) in the ACC standings and must win out to protect the No. 1 seed and a regular-season ACC title.

Florida State has come out on fire in the first half this year. Recently, that trend has continued. There could be some discomfort here given how Florida State ended versus North Carolina but given this is senior night, the hype should be restored.

Florida State met Boston College last season for senior night, winning 80-62 and putting up 42 points at the half (42-24). The two met in 2018 for the Seminoles senior night and Florida State won 85-76 and trailed at the half (34-36).

Florida State in the last five first halves overall:

FSU 41, UNC 29

FSU 49, MIA 28

FSU 39, PITT 33

FSU 45, UVA 25

FSU 41, WF 31

Florida State has averaged 40.8 points per game in their last five first halves at home and 40.1 on the year. In the last five overall, the Seminoles average 43.0 with a margin of +13.8. They have arguably been the most dominant first half team in the country over the last five games and Boston College is another quality matchup on senior night to continue that.

Boston Collge in the last five first halves overall:

BC 42, ND 35

SYR 41, ND 35

WF 30, BC 22

NCS 44, BC 24

ND 42, BC 32

Boston College allows 36.4 points per game over the last five first halves and 38.6 in the previous five road contests. Their margin at the half over the past five outings is -7.4 despite leading by seven at half in their last game. For the season, the Eagles have allowed 39.9 points per game in the first half of road matchups.

With all of the success Florida State has had to open games and the Seminoles' past success on senior night versus the Eagles makes this worth betting again. The spread (-19) is too large for me as Boston College has the offensive talent to cover but does not have much to play for. The spread seems like a trap so I will opt Florida State to do what they do best and score points from the opening whistle. The first half team total was not available when this was published, the pick will be updated when it is, but the play would be Florida State Team Total Over 37.5 if that line is available. Playing past 39.5 becomes risky, although the Seminoles are capable.

Game Pick: Florida State First Half playable up to 39.5 for 0.5u - anything below that is 1u

Stanford at USC (-7.5)

Stanford is beginning to fall off as they lost three straight games, including the last two at home. USC has lost three of their last four games but their one win was a monumental one over Oregon (72-58). USC lost to the three other teams ranked in the top-five of the conference along with USC and Oregon.

The big news in this matchup is Daejon Davis and Oscar da Silva for Stanford. Davis was benched in the previous game for a majority of the second half and there are rumors he and head coach Jerod Haase have issues. Hasse said he was benched due to a coach's decision and left it at that.

Oscar de Silva has been out the last two games and there is not much reasoning as to why he would play in this matchup as Stanford is 14-11 overall and 10-9 in league play. There are no new reports outside de Silva being a Game Time Decision, but chances are he suit ups against USC today is slim.

Stanford will likely opt to get healthy and enter the Pac-12 Tournament in the middle of the pack. USC is a half-game back of first place in the conference and has one more road game at UCLA (3/6) before concluding their regular season. This will be senior night for the Trojans and the second meeting of the season between the two.

USC beat Stanford 72-66 after trailing at halftime 35-32. USC's Evan Mobley recorded 23 points and seven rebounds, while Drew Peters totaled 15 points and Tahj Eaddy with 14. de Silva had nine points and four fouls in that meeting for Stanford. Davis missed the game with an injury. If the two cannot go, USC should win by double-digits as Jaiden Delaire and Ziaire Williams will be asked to stop this mountainous Trojans team.

USC needs one more win over the last two games plus to reach 20 victories for the fifth time in the last six seasons under head coach Andy Enfield. I like the 20th win to come here. If de Silva or Davis play, this is a hedgeable game as the Trojans should be double-digit favorites if they are out. I will take the value now.

USC is 22-11-1 ATS (66.7%) in its last 34 games versus Pac-12 Conference teams per NBC Top Trends.

Game Pick: USC -7.5 (2u) - playable up to -9.5 if Davis and de Silva are OUT