The USC Trojans are a poor shooting team that has not enjoyed much of a home court advantage in the last couple of years. Stanford has faced a killer schedule and should prevail Thursday.

It is opening night of the Pac-12 Conference season, as the Stanford Cardinal (9-4, 1-1 away) pay a visit to the USC Trojans (5-8, 4-3 home) Thursday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA at 10:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Stanford as a road favorite for this contest with the current line at -3 with odds of -107.

USC TrojansThe Cardinal may are 9-4, but the four losses have come to NC State, Minnesota, Missouri and Belmont, all of whom are ranked in the Pomeroy Top 40, and their schedule as a whole ranks a commendable 72nd in the country, so they have not shied away from tough competition.

Now Stanford is not a great shooting team, ranking 93rd in offensive efficiency and a dismal 262nd in effective field goal percentage, but a lot of that has to do with the schedule and the Cardinal have gotten on a nice roll lately, winning five of their last six games with the nine-point road loss to NC State being their only blemish.

Also the defense has been just fine, especially considering the schedule, as Stanford is ranked 29th in defensive efficiency. The current hot streak includes a nice road win at Northwestern,  marking Stanford’s second win over a Pomeroy Top 100 team. Although they are now commencing Pac-12 play, the Cardinal are actually stepping down in class by taking on a USC team that is only ranked 123rd overall.

Then again that is not surprising considering that the Pac-12 is currently ranked behind the mid-major Mountain West Conference as a whole by Pomeroy, so being toughened by a tough non-conference slate could make Stanford a dangerous sleeper inside the conference this season. That becomes especially true when you consider that the Cardinal’s four losses were all by single-digits despite them all being vs. top 40 Pomeroy teams.

As for the Trojans, they are coming off of a 6-26 season last year where they went 1-17 in Pac-12 play beating only conference newcomer Utah at home, and they were done in by ranking 326th out of then 345 Division I teams in offensive efficiency.

Well, they have been a little better this season, but that is not saying much as they still rank 211th in offensive efficiency and 244th in effective field goal percentage. That still awful shooing has resulted in recent losses to 130th ranked UC Irvine here at home and to 132nd ranked Georgia on the road.

Yes the Trojans are already just one win shy of their win total for all of last season, but their best win has come vs. an equally poor shooting Texas team. Look for Stanford to kick off the conference season in style with a nice road win on Thursday,



NCAA Basketball Pick: Stanford -3 (-107)