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Connecticut vs. USC Expert Pick and Prediction – April 1, 2024

Connecticut vs. USC Expert Pick and Prediction – April 1, 2024 

CONNECTICUT VS. USC EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – April 1, 2024 — No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke: the lower seed is actually the one giving points in this regional final. Southern California might be the most disrespected No. 1 seed out of the four in the women’s tournament, as people still seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Of course, that is part of what happens when the other team happens to be Connecticut. The Huskies remain women’s basketball royalty, even though it’s been a while since they’ve won a national title by their own lofty standards. The Final Four was the Connecticut Invitational until the Huskies got bounced in the Sweet 16 last season, which ended a streak of 14 straight Final Four appearances.

Related: Women’s Basketball Betting Boom

But there are signs that might not have been a one-off occurrence. Connecticut really hasn’t looked strong in this tournament outside of Paige Bueckers. With apologies to Caitlin Clark, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma probably isn’t wrong when he calls Bueckers the nation’s best player.

If she wasn’t, the Huskies probably would be home by now. She willed her team past both Syracuse and Duke, and she’s going to be the focal point of the offense again here.

USC counters with JuJu Watkins, who appears to be the next transcendent women’s basketball star. Watkins had an off-day in the Women of Troy’s win over Baylor, missing 20 of her shots from the floor, but she scored 30 points despite her shooting percentage. She can singlehandedly turn a game around if a team can’t control her, which means Connecticut’s defense will be critical if it plans to get back to the Final Four.

The Odds 







(32-5 SU) 






(29-5 SU)






When: Monday, April 1 at 9 p.m. EST 

Where: Moda Center, Portland, Ore.


Public Bets: Unavailable 

Public Money: Unavailable

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of March 31st, 2024

Connecticut vs. USC In-Season Trends 

As good as Watkins is, USC is at its best when it plays defense and grinds teams down. The 70 points given up to Baylor was just the second time in seven games that the Trojan defense gave up more than 62 points. They can run when they want to, as evidenced by winning a 95-93 shootout with Arizona, but they much prefer to lock down and let Watkins handle things at the other end.

Related: LSU vs. Iowa Pick and Prediction

The Huskies are also defense-heavy, and they’ve held their opponents to some embarrassing numbers. In the Big East tournament, Connecticut gave up a total of 124 points in three games, an average of 41.3 points per game. The defense was again outstanding against Duke, holding the Blue Devils to 45 points.

The Difference-Makers 

It’s cliché to say it, but it’s Bueckers for Connecticut and Watkins for USC. Bueckers is the snakebit veteran who’s been hampered by injuries throughout her career. This year, she’s about the only top player for the Huskies who isn’t hurt. Connecticut is down to eight healthy players and only plays six, which leads to major dependence on Bueckers and its defensive principles.

Watkins will test those principles and see if she can find cracks in the defense. She’ll get some help from guard McKenzie Forbes, but she’ll be the one getting most of the shots. This game could come down to which star steps up the most.

The Pick 

Connecticut has the best player on the floor, but doesn’t have a lot else on its side here. The Huskies might win this game, but they do not have enough to reasonably be favored in this game. Watkins leads a more developed USC squad and should carry her team if she can find enough space in the defense.

It won’t be the beautiful game everyone wants. It should be USC moving on.

Dan’s Picks 

 USC +3.5  

 Under 135.5 


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