Miami vs. USC NCAA Tournament First Round Picks

Isaiah Mobley #3 of the USC Trojans. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images/AFP

Join us as we take a look at the NCAA betting odds for an intriguing 7/10 matchup at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament between the USC Trojans from the Pac-12 and Miami Hurricanes of the Atlantic Coast Conference. 

Miami (FL) Hurricanes vs. USC Trojans 

Friday, March 18, 2022 – 03:10 PM EDT at Bon Secours Wellness Arena 

March Madness geography can be a little confusing at times. For example, take the East vs. West collision between Miami and USC which is part of the Midwest Region with the contest taking place in the Greenville, SC pod that is also hosting games from the West Region in the first two rounds of this year’s NCAA Tournament. 

Jim Larrañaga and Andy Enfield aren’t too concerned with geography right now as they lead their Hurricanes and Trojans into the Big Dance. The two head coaches are far more interested in the X’s and O’s on the hardwood in search of a winning NCAAB score and likely second-round matchup with SEC regular-season champ Auburn. 

Men of Troy Win Two Previous Encounters 

A lunchtime trip for Trojans fans back in Los Angeles and an early happy hour start for fans of the Hurricanes down in South Beach, truTV will carry the contest and BetMGM is carrying USC as a slight 1½-point favorite. The two sides are coming off contrary results in the totals column at their respective conference tourneys, and Friday’s scoreboard target is 139½. 

As far as incorporating betting trends in recent matchups between the Hurricanes and Trojans, we’re out of luck. The two programs have only met twice before, and both of those matchups came in the early-90s when USC put a couple of whippings on Miami to win each game by 20 points or more. 

Miami received its fifth invite to the tournament since Larrañaga arrived in Coral Gables, the last coming in 2018. The Hurricanes lost their first-round contests in both 2017 and 2018 after reaching the Sweet 16 in 2013 and 2016. They were the higher seed in the 2017-18 losses, and have managed to cover just two of their eight tournament games under Larrañaga. 

Enfield is taking USC dancing for the fourth time, with the Trojans in the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season. They made it to the West Region title game as part of the Elite 8 last year before the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs ended the Trojans’ impressive run as a No. 6 seed. The signature win was an 85-51 romp past third-seeded Kansas. 

‘Canes Reach Dance on 6-1 O/U Streak 

Miami quietly finished fourth in the ACC this season, winning six of its last eight with five of those dubyas coming on the road. The Hurricanes needed overtime to survive their conference tourney opener against Boston College, and let a first-half lead against Duke in a semifinal loss to the Blue Devils. 

One of the best ways to play Miami the last few weeks was the ‘over’ at top sportsbooks. Both ACC Tournament games sailed past the marks, along with four of the Hurricanes’ final five regular-season matchups. All six neutral-site contests also cashed ‘over’ tickets. 

While Larrañaga employs an 8-man rotation, the bulk of the minutes is filled by his five starters. One of those is All-ACC guard Kameron McGusty who leads the Hurricanes with a 17.6 PPG scoring clip. Miami is 18th in the country in shooting with a 47.8% FG mark, third in the ACC behind Duke and Wake Forest. 

Trojans Struggle to Cover When Favored 

Southern California also fell in the semis of its conference tournament, dropping a 69-59 decision to rival UCLA after beating Washington in the quarterfinals. The Trojans weren’t able to cover the college basketball odds in either contest and have been awful as the favorites with eight consecutive spread losses while carrying the chalk line. 

They have been a solid bet in NCAA Tournament games, however, whether playing as the underdog or the favorite. The Trojans have covered seven of their last eight tourney tilts, the lone ATS loss coming to Gonzaga in last year’s Elite 8. 

Miami is healthy while USC has one injury concern. Reese Dixon-Waters missed the loss to UCLA in the conference tournament due to a groin injury, and he is questionable to play in Friday’s matchup. Isaiah White (wrist) is also questionable for the Trojans. 

This one comes down to USC’s inside game against Miami’s strong guard play and perimeter defense. The Trojans, even if both injured reserve guards can’t play, have a deeper rotation to go up against the Hurricanes. The best thing to do is sit back and enjoy a close contest and then count your winnings when the college basketball pick on the ‘over’ comes in. 

NCAAB Pick: Over 139½ (-109) with BetRivers