The Pac-12 Tournament is about to hit a frenzy as the semi-finals are set to tip off later this evening. The later of the two pits arch rivals, UCLA and USC together in what should be a classic matchup. It’s time to continue our college basketball odds series with a UCLA-USC prediction and pick.

Click here for our Risk Free $1000 Bet!

*To claim, new users need to register, make a first deposit, and then simply place their first real-money wager on FanDuel Sportsbook up to $1000! If a user loses their first wager, we’ll refund their losses in the form of a free bet up to $1000!*

The two Southern California rivals meet for the right to play for the conference tournament championship in what should be a spectacular game. Both schools are ranked, with UCLA ranked 13th and USC at 21st. They finished second and third in the Pac-12 respectively this season behind Arizona. The schools have played twice this season, splitting the two meetings. It’s not often you get these two schools, ranked this high playing with this much on the line.

UCLA has gone 17-13-1 against the spread, while USC’s ATS record this season is 15-18-0. The Bruins have a 16-14-1 record hitting the over, while games involving the Trojans have a record of 15-18-0 when it comes to hitting the over. Both of those numbers appear to indicate UCLA as the pick.

Here are the UCLA-USC Pac-12 Tournament odds, courtesy of FanDuel.

Pac-12 Tournament Odds: UCLA-USC Odds

USC: +6 (-110)

UCLA: -6 (-110)

Over: 134.5 (-110)

Under: 134.5 (-110)

*Watch College Basketball Games LIVE with fuboTV (click for free trial)

Why UCLA Could Cover The Spread

Live and breathe sports?

🚨 Get viral graphics, memes, rumors and trending sports news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

The Bruins have a much more potent offense that could do very well in this matchup. UCLA has four players averaging double-digit scoring, with two others at right around eight points per game. Their offense is much deeper than that of USC, and it very well might show Friday night. The Bruins are averaging a little under 77 points per game; meanwhile, USC drops to only 73 per game.

A large part of that discrepancy is at the free throw line. It’s the most overlooked and underrated part of college basketball. But with the one-and-one part of the college landscape, games are won or lost at the line frequently. USC is downright awful at the line, shooting 66.7 percent as a team. The team’s leading scorer, Isaiah Mobley, shoots 69 percent from the line. The Trojans’ fourth leading scorer, Chavez Goodwin, is even worse shooting 49 percent.

Whereas, UCLA is much better. As a team, they sink 73 percent. But even that number is skewed a bit. The four top scorers for UCLA are all between 75 and 84 percent, with three of them over 80.

In close games, the ability to shoot free throws is vital. That could prove to be the difference.

Why USC Could Cover The Spread

USC is going to look to slow the game down a bit, and dominate in the paint. UCLA is not the biggest team, as they consistently play a four-guard lineup. Therefore, they are easily beat up down low and can be dominated on the glass.

One of USC’s strengths is their ability to rebound the ball. USC ranks 40th in the nation in rebounding at 40.4 boards per game. I would expect the Trojans to look to take advantage of their mismatch in the paint, and try to create as many second chance points as possible.

In general, it is much easier to slow a game down that it is to speed it up. That’s because on offense, you can consciously do it every possession. Then if you have the energy and athleticism to get back defensively, you can sink it. USC will likely look to do that in this matchup.

Final UCLA-USC Prediction and Pick

As do most games between these schools, this one will be close down the stretch. But free throw shooting is even more important in close games; therefore, I am laying the six points and taking UCLA to cover. I believe they are a better basketball team in general. But also, even in the game USC won earlier this season, they hit 91 percent of their shots from the charity stripe. That is not going to happen again.

This will probably be a one or two possession game with a minute or two remaining. If USC finds themselves trailing in that situation having to foul, UCLA has the ability to end the game. I think they will turn what was a USC cover to a UCLA cover in the game’s final minute.

Final UCLA-USC pick: UCLA -6 (-110)