College Basketball Picks: USC at Kansas Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 12/17/2010
So why did I pick USC at Kansas as the game of the day in college basketball on Saturday over, say, Kansas State-Florida or Texas-North Carolina? Not so much for the game itself, as the Jayhawks most certainly will win. But it’s because this is the debut of possibly the best freshman in the land in Josh Selby for KU.
How the Teams Enter
The No. 3 Jayhawks are 9-0 (winning by an average of more than 27 points) and have really only been tested once: a 77-76 win over UCLA on Dec. 2. But they have also beaten two other pretty good teams in Arizona and Memphis. They last played a week ago, thumping Colorado State. KU leads the nation in field goal percentage (55.8 percent) and assists per game (20.0) and is fifth in scoring.
USC is 6-4 and has been very uneven, but almost consistently so. The Trojans won two in a row, lost two straight, won two in a row again, then lost two straight again, then won two in a row again. That trend could certainly continue with this matchup followed by a game against Tennessee. USC shoots 11 percent lower from the field than Kansas and really has played only one quality team, losing by 17 to Texas.
USC at Kansas Storylines
Certainly the main storyline here is about Selby. The 6-foot-2 guard from Baltimore was considered by many the No. 1 recruit in the nation. As a senior at Lake Clifton High, he averaged 32 points, 7.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds. But the NCAA ruled he had to sit out nine games and pay $5,757.58 to charity for receiving impermissible benefits.
As good as he is, Selby probably won’t start right away.
"I doubt he starts,” KU coach Bill Self said. “The five guys that have been starting, they've done a decent job. They've performed at a pretty high level and I haven't seen anything yet to tell me that Josh deserves to be a starter over any one of those guys. Regardless of talent, regardless of expectations and hype and all of that stuff, the bottom line is that you've still got to produce on the court and you've still got to be one of five and understand how to make our team better.”
KU will be missing a rotation player, however, as senior forward Mario Little was suspended indefinitely this week after being arrested on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass, criminal damage to property and battery. He was averaging 6.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in 16.3 minutes.
And Selby isn’t the only player making his debut Saturday. So is Southern Cal transfer point guard Jio Fontan. As a freshman at Fordham, Fontan averaged 15.3 points and 4.7 assists. Here’s all Coach Kevin O’Neill had to say about Fontan:
"He's our best player," O'Neill said, adding he thinks the Trojans would be 8-2 or 9-1 if Fontan had been eligible all season. "He's our best leader. He's our best scorer. He's our best defender. He's our best passer. He's our best guard. He's our best player."
Kansas has won a national-best and school-record 64 straight games at home, with 39 of those against nonconference competition. USC is 0-2 in true road games this year and 4-19 in them since 2008-09. These two teams haven’t met since 2007.
USC at Kansas Betting Odds and Trends
The Jayhawks have opened as 17-point favorites, according to college basketball odds. KU is 4-3 ATS this season and 2-2 at home. USC is 5-4-1 ATS and 1-1 on the road.
KU is, oddly, 0-7 ATS in its past seven at home vs. teams with a losing road record
USC is 11-4 ATS in its past 15 games vs. a team with a winning percentage above .600
USC at Kansas College Basketball Picks and Betting Predictions
The actual outcome is not in doubt, but 17 points is quite a bit against a Trojans team that certainly should be fortified by Fontan. Plus, integrating Selby and losing Little might take the Jayhawks a few games to get totally into sync. Take the Trojans and the points.
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