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No. 6 USC vs No. 3 Kansas preview, picks for second round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The USC Trojans and Kansas Jayhawks meet at Hinkle Fieldhouse in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Why USC will upset Kansas

Two of the bigger brands with two completely different styles of basketball get on the floor this Monday as the No. 6 USC Trojans take on the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks for a spot in the Sweet 16.

The game will be broadcast by CBS Monday, March 22nd at 9:40 p.m. from Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University.

Let’s take a deeper look at the matchup.

No. 6 USC: 23-7 (14-5 Pac-12)

First round result: Defeated No. 11 Drake 72-56
KenPom rating: 8 Overall, 23 Offense, 10 Defense
NET ranking: 19, (4-4 vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Evan Mobley
Key stat: USC limits opponents to just 45% eFG, eighth-best in Division I.

Evan Mobley showed why he’s still in contention to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft with a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double in the Trojans win over Drake. His big brother Isaiah added 15 points and five rebounds as well, as the duo continues to shine for Southern Cal before they are inevitably split apart by NBA riches.

Where Mobley really makes an impact is protecting the rim, as his bounce and length is a nightmare for drivers heading to the basket. If they could shoot a bit better, they’d be wearing the white jerseys today instead of the road ones. The Trojans will need to knock down some shots if they’re to have any chance of advancing to the Sweet 16, and there are looks to be had against a Kansas defense that can struggle guarding the perimeter at times.

Mobley vs. David McCormack of KU is the key matchup in this one.

No. 3 Kansas: 21-8 (12-6 Big 12)

First round result: Defeated No. 3 Eastern Washington 93-84
KenPom rating: 18 Overall, 46 Offense, 9 Defense
NET ranking: 11 (6-8 vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Ochai Agbaji, 14.2 ppg
Key stat: XXXX

With no Jalen Wilson, and David McCormack coming off the bench for just 25 minutes while still recovering from a positive COVID-19 test, Kansas escaped despite trailing the Eagles after 30 minutes. McCormack was still the leading scorer with 22 points, and Agbaji added 21 more with seven rebounds and three assists.

Kansas has been as up and down as any team in college basketball, but they don’t have a loss to a team outside the Top 25 this season, and the strength of their schedule has been as high as first this season.

Not having Wilson is a problem, and it means senior point guard Marcus Garrett has to be great. He had 20-8-3 on Saturday, but his leadership will mean almost as much as his stats in what should be a terrific game to close out the Round of 32. And the fact this game is basically a coinflip from bettors means they think USC is trending better as of now.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Kansas -0.5
Total: 134
Moneyline: USC -109, Kansas -109

The Pick

USC -109

The Trojans are just playing better basketball right now, and Evan Mobley is a darkhorse candidate to be the MOP of this region. If Wilson was here it might change things significantly, but the best player on the floor will be wearing cardinal and gold. And Mobley’s teammates can do enough to cancel out the slightly more talented overall team 2-5.

But this one is close, and it likely comes down to which team just makes more three-pointers. The randomness of college basketball is real, and this game might be the perfect example.

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