The Gamecocks got their first March Madness win in 30 years two weeks ago, but rather than bowing out immediately afterwards, remained hot and now find themselves in the Final Four for the first time in their history as well.
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
Date and Time: Saturday, April 1, 2017, 6:09 p.m. ET
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
College Basketball Odds: Gonzaga -7, O/U 138
Gonzaga vs. South Carolina TV Coverage: CBS
College Basketball Odds
Gonzaga had the easiest path of any of the four teams in the National Championship Semifinal. The Bulldogs had just one real test all tournament, in the Sweet 16 against West Virginia, but only took care of business against the spread once. The Zags were 0-2-1 ATS in the NCAA Tournament before routing No. 11 seed Xavier by 24 to make it to Phoenix.
The play of Nigel Williams-Goss has left a lot to be desired up to this point. Williams-Goss was the team’s leading scorer in the regular season and he was expected to carry the team for stretches, but that hasn’t happened. He has hit just 19 of 61 of his shots from the floor through four games and had some major issues against West Virginia’s press in their meeting, making only 20 percent of his shots and committing five turnovers. Against a Gamecocks defense that can provide pressure, he will need to have a better performance.
What a run it’s been for South Carolina. The Gamecocks were 3-6 SU and 1-8 ATS in their last nine games before the start of the tournament, but have played like a totally different squad over this stretch. The team that has an offense ranked outside the Top 100 according to Ken Pomeroy has rode an offensive explosion to reach this point and covered in all four of their tournament games, including three as an underdog.
The talisman for the Gamecocks’ run has undoubtedly been Sindarius Thornwell. Thornwell has been the go-to guy for South Carolina all year and the senior has repeatedly delivered. Now that the stage has gotten bigger, he has only escalated his playmaking. He has scored at least 24 points in every tournament game and has been helping out on the glass too with 7.5 RPG. Gonzaga knows that it has to limit him to win.
These are the two best defenses in the country according to Ken Pomeroy and that means points will be at a premium here. Gonzaga has given up more than 60 points just once thus far in the tournament and anyone bemoaning its WCC schedule obviously didn’t pay much attention to the team’s non-conference play. The Zags shut down high-powered offenses like Arizona and Iowa State in the regular season and it will be tough for the Gamecocks to be able to score too.
South Carolina has played some of the best offenses in the country so far, but limited all but Duke to less points than their season average. The Gamecocks used defensive pressure to completely shut down Baylor in the Sweet 16 and held Florida to just 30 second half points. That defense will face another great offense in the Zags, but they are battle-tested at this point.
Gonzaga vs. South Carolina Free Picks
The big question to ask yourself before betting a side in this game is whether or not you think South Carolina is for real. The Gamecocks are playing at a level above anything we saw from them in the regular season and they have been shooting lights out, particularly in the second half. Although they might turn into a pumpkin, this team has what it takes to match up against the Bulldogs and even if they don’t win, they should cover the spread.
Gonzaga vs. South Carolina ATS Pick: Take the Gamecocks and the points
Gonzaga vs. South Carolina Score Prediction: Gonzaga 63, South Carolina 59