Florida SC Elite 8

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South Carolina

Elite 8

College Basketball



OUtside of die-hard SEC fans, not many predicted Florida and South Carolina to meet in the East regional final, but that’s what we’ll get. The Gamecocks continue destroying competition, while the Gators just escaped with probably the best ending of the Tournament in their win against Wisconsin. The line opened in favor of Florida, interestingly at -3.5 points at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

This Game isn’t supposed to be pretty, so anyone expecting such should turn away. These teams split during the regular season with both winning on their home cOurts. Florida took the most recent meeting 81-66, but South Carolina is playing at an entirely different level right now as opposed to February. Both of these teams struggled to close the regular season and lost in their first Games of the SEC Tournament, yet have run through the NCAA Tourney, impressively taking down some of the ACC’s best in Virginia (Florida) and Duke (South Carolina).

Both of these teams thrive on the defensive end, but South Carolina maybe more so. The Gamecocks just held Baylor to a season low 50 points and dealt with some of the best offensive weapons in the country in the win over Duke. Florida’s wins have been impressive, but Virginia and Wisconsin aren’t known for having elite offenses. When these teams met a month ago, the Gators kind of did whatever they wanted with KeVaughn Allen leading the way with 26 points, as the team shot 50% from two-point and 9-of-19 from behind the arc. Yet, it’s hard to see Florida having that kind of outing with the way South Carolina is playing at the moment.

The Gamecocks have been swarming on the perimeter through guys like Duane Notice and PJ Dozier, but Rakym Felder has been great off the bench and is a reason they’re in this spot. Sindarius Thornwell is the main offensive weapon for USC, but the players outside of him have really picked it up in the last three Games. Still, in the two previous Games against Florida, Thornwell combined to Score43 points on 10-of-20 shooting with 20 made free throws. If Florida doesn’t find a way to stop him, it will have trouble stopping South Carolina as a whole.

Florida’s offensive scoring hasn’t been as reliable as seen in the win over Wisconsin. KeVaughn Allen was the only Gator to Scoremore than eight points and he scored 35. The problem is that Allen is far from the consistent player that Thornwell is in that he scored just 11 points total in the first two Games of the Tournament. If Allen is hitting his shot from deep, he could Score20-plus again, but banking on him to do such against this attacking South Carolina defense would be a stretch. The Gators will need more from the rest of the team like Devin Robinson, Kasey Hill or buzzer-beating Chris Chiozza. This team scored 53 points in the first meeting against South Carolina because they failed to make a three. While that probably won’t happen again, it’s not like the Gamecocks are allowing easy looks outside, as seen in Baylor’s 3-of-13 day from three.

If Florida can hit shots against tight defense, then it will have the edge, but betting on them as favorites with that being the case, it’s a hard route to take. The Gamecocks have been playing a step above in the Tournament and that could be what gives them an edge over the Gators.

Our Pick – Florida -3

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