The bottom game of the NCAA Sweet 16 East Region bracket will showcase the matchup between the highest and the lowest ranked teams left on that side of the bracket. The #3 Baylor Bears will take on the #7 South Carolina Gamecocks at the Madison Square Garden on Friday night. The Bears come into this game after taking down the USC Trojans with 82-78, while the Gamecocks are riding one of the biggest upsets in their program, after surprisingly knocking out the Duke Blue Devils in Round 2 of the tournament with 88-81. Can the Gamecocks pull another upset, or will the Bears roar scare them away? Don’t miss this exciting matchup scheduled for Friday, March 24th with the tip-off at 7:40 PM ET.
#3 Baylor Bears vs. #7 South Carolina Gamecocks
LINE: Baylor -3.5
Total: 135 points
The Bears will play their 4th Sweet 16 since 2010
It was neither a pretty nor an easy one, but the W is all it matters. The #3 Baylor Bears somehow managed to push of the feisty USC Trojans in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament, taking them down with 82-78. The Bears jumped off to an early start into the game, taking an early lead and keeping it throughout the first perid, eventually going into the break with 36-31 advantage.
Coming outside the locker rooms, the Trojans went on a 12-4 run and taking a 50-48 lead. However, the Bears kept feeding the interior as Motley proved to be unstoppable scoring 19 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. The Bears, who had 4 players scoring in double figures, needed some magic and some big shots with the shot clock winding down and Manu Lecomte answered sinking a deep three pointer on which he was also fouled, putting him on the charity line for the “and one”. Lecomte finished the night with 12 points and 5 assists, scoring the majority of his points in closing minutes of the game. Terry Maston also had a huge night, finishing it off with 19 points and collecting 9 boards. King McClure is the final Bears player in double digits with 17 points and 5-8 from behind the arc.
The Bears shot 50.8% from the field as opposed to the Trojans 55%. The Trojans also had better shooting percentages from the deep, going 9-22 (40.9%), while the Bears shot 7-19 (36.8%). However, the key factor that decided the game was probably the battle underneath the baskets and the battle for the rebounds. The Bears have outrebounded the Trojans, collecting 31 as opposed to the Trojans 20 boards.
The Bears narrowly escaped the loss and are lucky to have advanced into the Sweet 16, which is their 4th time since 2010. On the season, the Bears are scoring 73.5 points per game while allowing 63.5 points to their opponents.
Place: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Date/Time: Friday March 24th, 2017. 07:40 PM ET
TV Coverage: TBS
The Gamecocks pull off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament yet
Who could have predicted that the South Carolina Gamecocks (24-10) could pull such an upset and send the Duke Blue Devils home in the 2nd round, outscoring them with 88-81. The start of the game indicated something different as the Blue Devils jumped to a 24-14 lead with 6 minutes left in the first period. However, the Gamecocks kept on grinding, trimming that lead to only 7 going into the locker rooms (30-23). The Blue Devils forced the Gamecocks to take bad shots and turn the ball over, which is why the Blue Devils thought that they had it in control going into the second half.
However, the second half provided a completely different story as the Gamecocks came out strong, making some big shots and suddenly the underdogs started making all of their shots, going on a 12-3 run with 5 minutes into the second period. On the defensive end, the Gamecocks forced the Blue Devils to commit a total of 18 turnovers allowing themselves some easy baskets from the transition.
With the huge upset over the Duke Blue Devils, the Gamecocks will look for another big win, this time when they take on the Baylor Bears in their first ever Sweet 16 matchup. The ACC player of the year, Sinfariud Thornwell did it all for his team, scoring 24 points, pulling down 6 boards and dished out 5 assists. Duane Notice and Chriss Silva both scored 17 points while Rakym Felder and PJ Dozier wrapped up the scoring with 15 points, while Dozier finished the game with 11 points.
The Gamecocks will most likely struggle to repeat the performance, but their season averages indicate that we are up for a real treat. The Gamecocks average 72.6 points per game, but allow 65.3 to their opponents.
#3 Baylor Bears vs. #11 South Carolina Gamecocks Game Trends & Prediction
The Baylor Bears are a slight favorite in this game and should be able to reach the Elite 8 round. Over the course of the season, the Bears went 14-15 ATS and only 4-6 most recently. Their backers are not too happy to see the total set at 135 points, considering that they are only 12-16 against the over/under.
The Gamecocks have reached all of their goals and even more. So far into the tournament, the Gamecocks have covered only 1 out of their most recent 10 games, but still, with the Sweet 16 games being played on Thursday and Friday night, the team should have more than plenty of time to prepare for the next round. Most recently the Gamecocks have seen a lot of overs, which is why I would recommend going with the over if you do decide to play the total.
The Bears are favored by the bookies with -3.5 points going into this game. The Bears have a lot of players at the disposal and a great and functioning defense, while the Gamecocks will unlikely repeat their great play again, which is why I am going with the Bears in this one while also staying away from the total.