Locked in · Sophomore infielder Dillon Paulson will look to build on a strong freshman campaign in which he appeared in 40 of USC’s 56 games – Tal Volk | Daily TrojanAs the USC baseball team winds up for the new season starting this Friday against Coppin State, excitement and uncertainty is brewing in the air.“Opening day is always special because it’s the start of a new season,” senior outfielder Corey Dempster said. “Everything resets, a new lineup, everything is new. You can’t compare it to last year, you can’t look forward to next year, all that matters is opening day.”The Trojans lost 12 players from last year’s team in a record-breaking MLB Draft for USC. Former stars such as David Oppenheim and Jeremy Martinez, who provided excellent hitting and power, will need to be replaced with younger, more inexperienced bats. With a completely transformed lineup and pitching rotation that will likely evolve from game to game, freshman players will need to take on important roles.“They’re going to have to come off the bench to do well,” Dempster said. “They’re not going to think they have a big impact, but later in the season it always rolls around to them.“Definitely on the mound because our staff is so young, they’re going to have to step up in big spots. Get zeros, compete — that’s really all it’s about. Just go out there and give us a chance to win.”Despite a very young and reshaped roster, USC does have some familiar faces on this year’s squad. In addition to Dempster, who batted .290 last year with 10 stolen bases, redshirt junior infielder Frankie Rios (.323 batting average) and junior infielder Adalberto Carrillo (seven home runs) return to strengthen the top of the order. In terms of pitching, only junior Mitch Hart and sophomore Marrick Crouse started more than two games last season, but the bullpen will be aided by the arrival of Brock Larson, a senior transfer from University of San Francisco who pitched to a 4.28 ERA last season.“On the mound, I think whether it’s Mitch Hart or Brad Wegman or Marrick Crouse, we’re going to need those guys to really step up and be significant weekend starters in our league,” head coach Dan Hubbs said. “[And] you look at Adalberto Carrillo at third: He’s a plus defender at third and he has big, big power.”Last season, the Trojans finished an even 28-28 overall and 15-15 in conference play. This year, the team aims to find more consistency on its journey to once again become a national powerhouse.“We’ve started to put ’SC baseball back on the map, but I think this group is ready to make its mark,” Hubbs said. “They practice hard, they play hard and they’re going to play with a lot of energy and passion. I think it’ll be fun for students and fans to watch us play this year.”The team’s path begins Friday against the Coppin State Eagles, a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team based in Baltimore. Last season, the Eagles finished 14-38, and they are four years removed from a 1-52 season. But regardless of the opposing team’s pedigree, the Trojans know that opening day will be special.“Just the fact that we’re getting back out onto the field,” Hubbs said. “I think that if you’re a Trojan fan, these kids will give you a lot to be proud of, and you’ll like the way we play. The style of play — it’s going to be exciting. It’s always fun when you get the opportunity to see a bunch of new guys out there.”USC kicks off its season on Friday, playing the first of a three-game set against the Eagles at Dedeaux Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the series will wrap up with two weekend matinees, beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The encore to arguably the biggest fight of 2019 take place this weekend when Andy Ruiz Jr. defends his IBF, WBA (super) and WBO heavyweight titles against former unified champion Anthony Joshua in their highly anticipated rematch on Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Diriyah Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.Here’s a complete betting guide for Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua with updated odds, trends and our prediction to win. Join DAZN to watch Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 & 100+ fight nights a yearAndy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua 2 oddsFighterOddsAndy Ruiz Jr.+175Anthony Joshua-205Sportsbooks have installed Joshua as a shocking sizable favorite, according to Bet Online. The logical theory is that oddsmakers are looking at the first fight back in June, in which Ruiz scored four knockdowns, including two in the seventh and final round to pull off the upset, as a fluke. Joshua is trending at a -205 favorite, which means you’d need to wager $205 to win $100. The champion is +175, meaning you’d win $175 if you bet $100. After a bit of fluctuation when Joshua initially opened as a -300 favorite, odds for the Englishman went as high as -325 before tumbling to as low as -200. With the fight getting closer, more people started placing money on Joshua and the number rose to -220.The odds of Ruiz retaining his belts, like Joshua, were like a roller coaster; they were initially at plus +250 and went as high as +265. But unlike Joshua, those odds kept dropping, with more people feeling that Ruiz can do what he did six months ago.Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 prop betsHeading into this monstrous clash between two of the best heavyweights in the world, there are three intriguing prop bets you should keep on as the fight inches closer.First, the over/under of total rounds is currently set at 7.5 rounds. Remember, the first fight ended slightly above this number at 1:33 of the seventh round. That’s only three seconds, and this is a heavyweight title fight. The chances of it ending quickly are better than all of the divisions because of the size of the men, and they hit much harder. Another one — and it is quite puzzling — is Ruiz repeating his performance and finishing off Joshua inside the distance, which is coming in at +290. Out of his 33 wins, Ruiz has won 22 of them by knockout. To me, it shows the public is feeling Ruiz is more James “Buster” Douglas than a legitimate, top-tier heavyweight, and with more time to prepare, Joshua will figure it out and get the job done. Lastly, Joshua winning a decision is at +280. Joseph Parker is a common opponent between Joshua and Ruiz. Ruiz suffered the lone loss on his resume to the Kiwi in December 2016, and Joshua gave Parker the first loss of his career, winning by unanimous decision in March 2018 to add the WBO title. The best path to victory for Joshua is what he did in the Parker contest, and that’s fight on the outside, pop the jab, and when you see an opening, then come in with power shots. It isn’t like the 30-year-old suffered a flash KO. From the third round to the time of the stoppage, Ruiz battered Joshua around with his quick hands and better boxing acumen. If he’s gunshy about getting into another slugfest because of what happened in the first bout and wants to make it a boxing match, so be it.Join DAZN to watch Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 & 100+ fight nights a yearThree trends to know1. The last fights for Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) and Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) were against each other, with the 30-year-old from California becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to become heavyweight champion. 2. The rematch is taking place in Saudi Arabia, at the newly constructed Diriyah Arena. The site was a surprise to many. Joshua had it stipulated in the contract for the sequel that he would determine when and where the rematch would take place.The prevailing thought had been it would take place in Joshua’s home country of England at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, and have the comfort of being at home or because the first battle took place at Madison Square Garden in New York and Joshua would want to right the wrong and exorcise his demons there. However, the script was flipped and the Middle Eastern country was chosen to host the first significant fight the region has ever seen.3. The bout is closer than anyone thinks. People tend to forget how skilled both guys are, only looking at what happened back in June. They only had five weeks to prepare due to Jarrell Miller being pulled after failing a litany of drug tests. Three things to watch1. The biggest thing heading into the fight that fans are wondering about is Ruiz’s physique and if it will help him. Pictures and videos of him appear to show he lost weight. That’s something Ruiz emphasized coming in, as he wanted to shed around 14 pounds to help with his cardio after he weighed 268 pounds for the first tilt. Watching him at his open workout on Tuesday, Ruiz succeeded at his goal. But will it equate to a better performance in the ring?2. Another significant factor to watch out for is how Joshua approaches the rematch. After the loss, Joshua was in hiding for almost a week, thinking about what happened and what went wrong. During fight week and the duration of the battle in the ring, Joshua appeared to be too relaxed and acted like he was taking a stroll at the park without a worry in the world. Now, his career is on the line. Supreme focus is of the utmost importance. The smiling and nonchalant attitude needs to be out the window and can come back when the bout concludes. If not, it will be a more tranquil night for Ruiz, and the end of Joshua as a legitimate heavyweight is out the window.3. While the location of the fight in Saudi Arabia has been a topic of conversation among the public, how it affects Ruiz and Joshua is unknown. Both arrived in ample time to get themselves acclimated to the time zone and the conditions. The temperature is expected to be in the high 50s by the time they make their walk to the ring at 3:45 p.m. ET. You truly won’t know how it plays a factor until after first round ends. You will get to see how they are moving and their body language. Athletes handle fighting in new places differently. Look at how Joshua fought in the U.S. for the first time. What was the end result? For Joshua’s sake, he better have learned to go about everything differently.This is Ruiz’s first time fighting outside the U.S. How does he handle the pressure of now being the heavyweight champion and making his first title defense in a foreign country? Will he be comfortable in a new environment.Join DAZN to watch Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 & 100+ fight nights a yearRuiz vs. Joshua predictionContrary to the odds, this is a hard fight to pick a winner. Logic would lean toward Joshua because he did take the initial bout on five weeks’ notice while Ruiz was coming right off a fight and didn’t take any time off in between to put on a fantastic performance and pull off the monumental upset.Did Joshua work on his game enough to fix the flaws? If he did, it will be an easy night at the office. You don’t win an Olympic gold medal if you lack intelligence and the willingness to adapt to get better at your craft. I feel Joshua is going to play it safe by flicking the jab on the outside and making it a boxing match for 12 rounds. Why get into another firefight when it didn’t work out so well the first time?Ruiz has a great chance of winning. With the weight loss, that will give him better cardio and better movement in the ring that should help him if the fight heads into the later rounds. Combine those factors with his quick hands and we could easily see the same result.Playing it safe isn’t always the sexiest route to go, but showing the world you are more than a slugger will enhance Joshua’s arsenal in the future, gain his confidence, and most importantly, recapture three heavyweight title belts. The fight will have its moments of excitement, but it’s going to go the distance and Joshua will get his titles back. Trilogy fight anyone?SN pick: Anthony JoshuaBest wager: Fight goes the distance (Bet Online, +250)