South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Stanford Cardinal
Date and Time: Friday, March 31, 2017, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX
WNCAA Tournament Odds: South Carolina -2, O/U 134.5
South Carolina vs. Stanford TV Coverage: ESPN
It's clear that this game is going to be won and lost in the paint. That's bad news for the Cardinal, who simply don't have the height to deal with South Carolina's top scorer, A'ja Wilson. Wilson is averaging 17.9 points per game and has a fantastic running mate in the low block in Alaina Coates, who is good for 12.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per night. Both of these ladies are capable of double-doubles and play fierce defense in the interior, and that's how the Gamecocks have run out to the Final Four without all that much in the way of muss or fuss.
Stanford though, is a team that has found a way to overachieve for our money. Sure, this is a fantastic club; you don't get to 32-5 in any sport without being tremendous. But it feels like Erica McCall, Brittany McPhee and Karlie Samuelson really need a kick start every now and again, something that these top teams in the land shouldn't need.
In fact, the Cardinals have been down at halftime in three of their first four games of the dance, including against No. 15 New Mexico State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
29.3 – The number of points per game the Gamecocks have surrendered in the first halves of games here in the NCAA Tournament.
Don't think that this was just a matter of one great game against a bad UNC Asheville club in the first round either. The Bulldogs' 22 points in the first half wasn't that far off from what we saw against Florida State in the Elite Eight when the Lady Seminoles managed just 29 points.
This is a big problem for Stanford. We've already highlighted that this club has had to post some big comebacks and furious rallies just to reach the Final Four, and we wonder whether there is any way to get off to a better start against a team that has just flat out smothered its competition right out of the gates in just about every game it has played over the course of the last month.
South Carolina vs. Stanford Free Picks
Plainly and simply, if the Cardinal struggle with their shots in the early going in this one, there probably isn't going to be a way back in the fold.
Unlike Kansas State or Texas or even Notre Dame before it, South Carolina has one of the top perimeter defenses in the nation. The Gamecocks can play at this level, and they're going to feel like they've got a shot at the Huskies as well in the title game if that's what it really comes down to as many suspect will be the case.
Stanford doesn't happen to be the best three-point shooting team out there either. Samuelson, the sister of UConn's Katie Lou, has a sweet stroke like her sister does, and that's what has gotten this team on fire in recent games. If that spark doesn't come, though? That's when this game could start to get a little ugly.
That said, the Gamecocks were sloppy against Florida State, turning the ball over 18 times, and that could end up being a great equalizer. If SC holds onto the rock and stays aggressive defensively, this game will be a romp. We're not sure that it will be in the end, but we do think South Carolina is the right play laying just a deuce.
South Carolina vs. Stanford ATS Pick: South Carolina -2 at BookMaker.eu
South Carolina vs. Stanford Score Prediction: South Carolina 67, Stanford 61