Baylor Bears vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
Date and Time: Friday, March 24, 2017, 7:29 p.m. ET
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
College Basketball Odds
Baylor vs. South Carolina TV Coverage: TBS
College Basketball Odds
Baylor was No. 1 for a long time this season, being one of the last undefeated teams left in the country, but started to wear down as the season went on. The Bears had some pretty bad losses later in the year losing to Texas Tech on the road and Kansas State at home and got bounced by the Wildcats from the conference tournament too.
The Bears have been tested in both of their tournament games, but have responded well to this point. Baylor was down at halftime to New Mexico State before winning the second half by 20 and getting an easy cover, and withstood a late charge by USC to get the win, but not the cover, in the second round. This team has only covered three of its last nine games.
No one would have expected what we have seen from South Carolina through the first two rounds. The offensively challenged Gamecocks scored 93 points in their win over Marquette and 88 in their win over Duke in Greenville, a far cry better than the team that was only averaging 72.7 PPG in the regular season.
Even more surprisingly is how well South Carolina has played considering what happened at the end of the regular season for the Gamecocks. Including it’s one and done appearance in the SEC Tournament, the Gamecocks only covered one of their final ten games and went 4-6 straight-up with all four wins coming against teams that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. Even worse, three of those losses came against sides that didn’t make it to the Big Dance.
Player to Watch
Baylor is thanking its stars for Johnathan Motley. Motley may have had five turnovers in the game against USC, but was one of the keys to victory thanks to his performance on the offensive glass. He pulled down six offensive rebounds against the Trojans and was the main reason that the Bears outrebounded the Trojans by double digits.
He has been a double-double machine this season and can take over a game down low. Motley hit 9 of his 12 shots from the field against USC and was solid against New Mexico State as well. Getting a good performance from him will be all the more important against a defense that is good at shutting down your best offensive threat.
South Carolina is in the Top 30 in the nation in PPG allowed, opponent field goal percentage, and opponent three-point percentage and this defense is good at limiting scoring chances. If Motley can keep things alive on the offensive glass, or better yet score at a decent clip, the Bears will stand a great chance against the Gamecocks.
Baylor vs. South Carolina Free Picks
Sindarius Thornwell has been the player to make it happen on the offensive end all season long for South Carolina. The heart and soul of this team led the Gamecocks with 24 points and hit three huge three-pointers to move South Carolina past Duke and into the Sweet 16.
Officiating played a big part in South Carolina’s game against Duke and may do so again versus Baylor. The physical style the Gamecocks play forces officials to make some tough decisions, so don’t be surprised to see plenty of fouls called again here. Provided these fouls are called at an even rate though, look for the Gamecocks to pull off the upset and make the Elite Eight.
Baylor vs. South Carolina ATS Pick: Grab South Carolina on the moneyline
Baylor vs. South Carolina Score Prediction: South Carolina 74, Baylor 70