It’s hard to imagine Feast Week could get any better but with the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament tipping off today it actually does get better. One of the most intriguing matchups in the first round of the tournament is between USC and BYU so we’ll preview the game and give out a pick for the action as well.
Both USC and BYU enter this tournament with a 3-1 record but despite their record, the Trojans have been off to a shaky start to the season. USC opened with a buy game loss to FGCU and despite winning their next three games they have still let average mid-major schools hang around with them.
Shooting has been a struggle early this season as the Trojans enter today shooting only 30% from three. Despite the early shooting woes, the combination of Drew Peterson and Boogie Ellis has proven to be one of the best duos in the country. Peterson leads USC in scoring and assists with 15.8 PPG and 8 APG.
The backcourt isn’t the cause for concern of this team it’s the lack of rebounding. USC is the worst rebounding team in the PAC-12 and will now face a BYU team that is ranked in the Top-50 in offensive rebounding percentage. Gideon George leads the Cougars in rebounding with 8.25 a game so look for him to play a big impact on today’s game.
BYU hasn’t necessarily shot the ball much better as they currently have a 49.4% effective field goal percentage and have also struggled to shoot it from three-point range. Thankfully for the Cougars Fousseyni Traore has been dominant in the post early on this season and has been averaging a team-high 12.5 PPG.
Whoever can limit their turnovers the most will be the most successful in this match, and yes I know that sounds obvious but BYU is averaging 19.3 turnovers a game, and USC is averaging 14.8 per game so it’s been a real problem for both sides.
This game opened with BYU as -1.5 point favorites and has stayed there up to this point. I’ll be taking the Cougars here as my play for this game, mainly because I think they can dominate on the boards and get a lot of second-chance looks.
The USC frontcourt has dealt with injuries early on this season and has quite frankly just struggled to stop even inferior opponents from getting offensive rebounds so I think the combination of George and Traore will have a field day today in the Bahamas. BYU also has more frontcourt depth so those injuries could really hurt the Trojans today against their first real test of the season.
With the way both teams are shooting the play in the post will be vital so as long as BYU can force Peterson and Ellis to force shots and turn the ball over they should be able to come out of this round-one matchup with a win.