UCLA vs. USC score: Prediction, pick, odds, line, point spread, basketball game, tipoff time, preview

The Battle for Los Angeles between UCLA and USC is always contentious, so their meeting Saturday should be no different – especially with a conference title on the line. The Bruins can claim the Pac-12 Championship with a win and the cross-city rival Trojans would like nothing more than to keep it from them.

But taking the crown from a surging UCLA (19-11, 12-5 Pac-12) squad is easier said than done. Since limping to 1-3 start in Pac-12 play, the Mick Cronin-led Bruins went 11-2 and are riding a seven-game win streak heading into the regular-season finale. A win or Oregon loss would give UCLA its first Pac-12 title since 2012-13. USC (21-9, 10-7) has been impressive in its own right, though, beating Arizona and Arizona State by a +9.5 scoring margin over the last two games. The Trojans went to Pauley Pavilion and beat UCLA by 11 earlier in the year and are looking for a similar result this time, at home and when their opponent can least afford it.

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UCLA: Tyger Campbell hit a go-ahead basket in the final minute of UCLA’s last contest, a Feb. 29 win over Arizona. But that moment isn’t indicative of his recent play. Over his last two games, Campbell’s shot 4-27 from the field and 0-5 from 3-point range. The talented young guard, who returned this season after suffering a torn ACL in 2018-19, needs to find his stroke again for the Bruins to close their regular season on a high note. 

USC: The Trojans’ frontcourt has size and the physicality to match. Nick Rakocevic (6-11) and Onyeka Okongwu (6-9) both average over eight boards a game, anchoring the Pac-12’s top rebounding team at 38.7 per game. Last time the Trojans played UCLA, Rakocevic feasted with a 17-point, 14-rebound, four-block showing. To mitigate the Trojans’ size advantage, UCLA must continue its hot 3-point shooting (over 40 percent in two of its last four games) and spread the floor. 

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Game prediction, pick 

Latest odds via SportsLine:  USC -4.5           

Pick: No way I’m stepping in the way of the hottest team in America. Mick Cronin and the Bruins have leveled up in a major way since USC’s 11-point win in Pauley Pavilion more than a month ago. UCLA has gone 11-3 since that first meeting, including seven straight wins and regular season sweeps of Colorado and Arizona. Rivalry factor and revenge factor are on UCLA’s side and while I like them to win I love the play to cover the number. Pick: UCLA +4.5 (Chip Patterson)  

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