clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

No. 6 USC vs. No. 1 Gonzaga preview, picks for the Elite Eight round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The USC Trojans and Gonzaga Bulldogs meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Elite Eight round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Oregon v Southern California Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Two west coast powers will meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the right to go to the Final Four as the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs try to keep their undefeated season going when battling the No. 6 USC Trojans.

The game will be televised on Tuesday, Mar. 30 at 7:15 p.m. ET on TBS. Gonzaga opens as a nine-point favorite.

No. 6 USC: 25-7 (15-5 Pac-12):

First round: Defeated No. 11 Drake 72-56
Second round: Defeated No. 3 Kansas 85-51
Third round: Defeated No. 7 Oregon 82-68
KenPom rating: 6 Overall, 15 Offense, 4 Defense
Leading scorer: Evan Mobley (16.5 ppg)
Key stat: This is USC’s first Elite Eight appearance since 2001. Seeking first Final Four since 1954.

USC has put together a trio of dominant victories in the NCAA Tournament and this in large part to them putting the clamps on their opponents defensively. Ranked fourth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency per KenPom, the Trojans held both Drake and Kansas to just 29 percent shooting in their respective matchups before limiting Oregon to 37 percent from the field in Sunday’s Sweet Sixteen blowout.

Potential top-three NBA Draft pick and Pac-12 Player of the Year Evan Mobley is averaging a double-double so far in the tournament, putting up 12.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a game to go along with his 2.7 blocks per contest.

If there’s any weakness for the Trojans to potentially exploit, it’s turnovers. Gonzaga committed 16 against Creighton on Sunday and have committed 10+ in each of their tournament games, although some of those could be attributed to general sloppiness in garbage time.

No. 1 Gonzaga: 29-0 (15-0 WCC):

First round: Defeated No. 16 Norfolk State 98-55
Second round: Defeated No. 8 Oklahoma 87-71
Third round: Defeated No. 5 Creighton 83-65
KenPom rating: 1 Overall, 1 Offense, 7 Defense
Leading scorer: Corey Kispert (19.2 ppg)
Key stat: Gonzaga is 29-0 and three games from becoming the first undefeated national champion since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.

The top-seeded Zags have carried their penchant for beating teams down early into the tournament with scoring margins of 33, 16 and 18, respectively, through three games. One of many factors has been their dominance on the glass. outrebounding tourney opponents by 35 through the first three rounds.

Of their trio of All-Americans in Corey Kispert, Drew Timme and Jalen Suggs, Timme has gone off with a 30 point, 13 rebound effort against Oklahoma before dropping 22 and six on Creighton.

Look for Gonzaga to try to bang with USC in the paint and try to force the Trojans to the line. USC is shooting just 64.3 percent from the charity stripe, one of the worst percentages in the nation.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Gonzaga -9
Point total: 155
Moneyline: USC +325, Gonzaga -435

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Gonzaga -9
Point total pick: Over 155
Pick to Win: Gonzaga

USC enters this matchup as the highest KenPom team the Bulldogs have played all year and only two of their seven losses this season came by double-digits.

And while Mobley and the Trojans are playing out of their minds defensively, you almost have to go with the Zags to cover on principle at this point as no team has come to within single digits of Gonzaga since West Virginia back on Dec 2. This is all Zags here with both teams clearing the 155 threshold easily.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL). Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA/MI), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (NH/CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-888-532-3500 (VA) or call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN). 21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See for full terms and conditions.