USC basketball futures odds to win Pac-12, NCAA tourney ahead of Bronny James collegiate debut

Although they’ve played eight games, roughly a quarter of their schedule, the USC Trojans basketball team hasn’t really forged an identity.

Andy Enfield’s team has one of the nation’s top freshmen in Isaiah Collier, a senior who most college basketball fans are familiar with in Boogie Ellis, and most recently lost to Gonzaga in Las Vegas 89-76 in a statement game.

The statement is that they’re not as good as they were expected to be.

USC posted wins over Kansas State and Seton Hall in November, but lost a tight game to a Oklahoma to end the month and then really struggled against the Bulldogs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Dec. 2, trailing from start to finish. Gonzaga led by as many as 18 points, overcame Ellis scoring 28 and outscored the Trojans 21-8 on fast breaks.

At the moment, USC isn’t making the most of a talented roster. We’re about to see whether Bronny James can have a positive impact since he’s expected to make his debut on Sunday against Long Beach State.

Bronny James expected to make collegiate debut Sunday

James, the oldest son of LeBron James, is going to play his first college game on Sunday against Long Beach State after suffering cardiac arrest while practicing this summer. He’s expected to be on a minutes restriction, but he’ll be moving into the role that was envisioned for him as an impactful presence off the bench.

He may immediately provide a boost off the bench since USC can definitely use another body to improve depth. 

James, a guard, is listed at 6-foot-4, weighs 210 pounds, and had a great prep career. ESPN viewed him as a top-20 recruit.

James excelled in the McDonald’s All-American game, made big plays to aid Team USA’s win in the most recent Hoop Summit and is expected to contribute immediately. It really doesn’t matter if he’s starting, but whether he’s on the court to close out games will be intriguing to see. 

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USC basketball futures odds to win Pac-12, make Final Four

Here are the latest futures odds for USC at top-rated sportsbooks:

USC hasn’t done much to enhance or tarnish its resume in the season’s first few weeks. A loss to UC Irvine doesn’t help its at-large chances but isn’t a deal-breaker either. A solid showing in Pac-12 play should see them enter the NCAA Tournament field of 68 comfortably.

While UCLA isn’t expected to be as formidable as it has been in years past, Arizona is ranked No. 1 nationally and is basically an even money choice to win the Pac-12 as a clear favorite. At most books, USC is ranked as the second choice to win the conference behind the Wildcats.

They’re listed as high as to win the National Championship depending on where you shop, so there’s definitely an opportunity to cash in on them if you’re bullish on their ability to improve and blossom into a title contender.

Collier (+3500) and Ellis () have odds on them in the Player of the Year race, with Purdue’s Zach Edey basically an even money favorite since he won last season and is off to a terrific start. Collier, a freshman, has lived up to the hype, averaging 17.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists through his first eight games.

He’s scored in double-figures each time out and has set a personal-best with six assists in each of the last two games. One concern is that he went just 2-for-6 from the free-throw line in the loss to Gonzaga, but he had shot the ball reasonably well beforehand so his off night may have just been an aberration.

Ellis is one of college basketball’s best scorers, a shot creator who can get hot from the perimeter, so he should also enjoy a strong season in conference play.

Small forward Kobe Johnson, younger brother of Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson, is a great glue guy who can score, rebound and facilitate. 6-foot-6 Washington State transfer DJ Rodman, 6-foot-11 senior Joshua Morgan, 6-foot-11 freshman Arrinten Page and 7-foot-1 sophomore x-factor Vincent Iwuchukwu anchor the frontcourt, so James will have plenty of bodyguards and will presumably get minutes at the guard spots. 

Iwuchukwu, who had his own health scare last season, was one of the nation’s top recruits and comes off Enfield’s bench. His potential as a game-changer is well known, but he’s striving for consistency. If he and James develop chemistry among the USC reserves, this team is going to be tough to handle over the course of 40 minutes on a nightly basis. 

Long Beach State vs. USC odds: Point spread, total

Here are the latest college basketball betting odds for Long Beach vs. USC:

  • Spread: LBSU 14.5 (-110); USC 14.5 (-110)
  • Total: 159.5 (OVER/UNDER -110)

Sunday’s game against Long Beach State represents USC’s last home game until conference play begins in January. The 49ers are 6-4 and have wins over major conference squads in DePaul and Michigan.

They upset the Wolverines in Ann Arbor and have beaten Iona, Montana State, and Sacramento State since then, losing to Illinois State and Louisiana. Highly respected head coach Dan Monson leads a solid team that is plenty capable of pulling off an upset at the Galen Center, so tread lightly if you’re wagering on Bronny’s debut.

Following this contest, the Trojans will visit Auburn and Alabama State as they venture into the south to prepare for conference play. USC opens Pac-12 play at Oregon and Oregon State late this month before hosting Cal and Stanford. They’ll only be an underdog against the Ducks, so there is a great opportunity on paper to get off to a strong start.

The Trojans play Arizona and UCLA twice, so their schedule is difficult, but there’s no question there’s enough talent in place to make a run at a title despite what went down last weekend against Gonzaga. If James is special as a difference maker, the Trojans are talented enough to factor into the Pac-12 race.


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