The USC Trojans will travel to Orlando, Fla. to take on the No. 20 Wichita State Shockers on Thanksgiving. Below is the Wichita State vs. USC prediction and game preview.
Wichita State vs. USC Game Preview
Date: Thursday, Nov. 26
Game Time: 2 p.m. ET
Venue: HP Field House, Orlando, Fla.
Why You Need To Care
Wichita State was one of the more exciting teams in the NCAA tournament last season, and it’s out to prove that wasn’t a fluke. The Shockers did sandwich a loss to Tulsa between wins against Charleston Southern and Emporia State last week.
Gregg Marshall’s team is averaging 77 points per game on 42.3 percent shooting so far. The Shockers are giving up just 64.7 points per game.
USC is still undefeated at 4-0, and its games really haven’t been that close — with the exception of an eight-point win against New Mexico.
The Trojans are led by head coach Andy Enfield, who’s in his third year with USC since leaving Florida Gulf Coast. Enfield’s guys are 12th in the country with 92.5 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting.
On Friday, whoever takes this game will meet the winner of a quarterfinal matchup between Alabama and Xavier.
Why Wichita State Will Win
The Shockers do a really good job of making the most of their possessions. They’ve turned the ball over 31 times on the season, which is good for 14th fewest in the country. What hurt Wichita State against Tulsa was the amount of free throws the Shockers gave the Golden Hurricane, who hit on 21-of-28 from the charity stripe. The Shockers will keep the Trojans off the free throw line and control the defensive glass. Wichita State has given up just 21 offensive rebounds this year.
Why USC Will Win
The Trojans will have to pick their shots wisely. They shoot 39.6 percent from three while the Shockers allow 20.7 three-point attempts per game with opponnents knocking down 33.9 percent of them. USC will also have to play the passing lanes and have active hands on defense. If it can poke the ball free, USC should be able get out and run.
Players Who Matter
How can the focus not be on Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker? Baker leads the team with 20.3 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting, and he’s only turned the ball over four times so far. VanVleet, on the other hand, hasn’t turned the ball over at all, but he hasn’t done too much scoring (5.5 ppg) or playmaking (2 apg). Wichita State needs Van Fleet to increase his production.
USC should look for sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin to be the counterweight to Baker’s scoring output. McLaughlin is also averaging 20.3 points per game, but he’s doing it at a much more efficient pace (61.4 percent shooting). If McLaughlin catches fire, and junior Julian Jacobs continues to dominate the boards, then USC could make this one fun. Jacobs is a guard averaging 8 rebounds per game — incredible.
What’s Going To Happen?
Wichita State was upset by Tulsa, and the Trojans are going to try and copy what the Golden Hurricane did. But turnovers could keep the Trojans from doing that. In the end, McLaughlin is going to have a solid game and lead USC past Wichita State — barely, but still a win for USC. Van Fleet just hasn’t done enough so far, and it’s going to be hard for the Shockers to establish themselves until he steps up more.
Wichita State vs. USC Prediction