by Greg Dempson
In order to face the Gamecocks the Baylor Bears had to defeat not one but two double-digit seeds in the tournament, New Mexico State, (91-73,) and USC, (72-68.) South Carolina’s path was much more daunting as they had to hurdle Marquette, a more talented team that New Mexico State, defeating the Golden Eagles, (93-73,) with a line at pick ’em and then defeat the Blue Devils as 6.5 point underdogs, (88-81.)
This marks the first ever appearance for South Carolina as the norm at this juncture of the season is normally Madison Square Garden and a NIT appearance. South Carolina began the season with a bang reeling off eight consecutive wins including the thrashing of Michigan, (61-46,) as 3 point underdogs as well as a victory at Syracuse, (64-50,) as 8.5 point dogs.
Then the team had to deal with their self imposed suspension of guard Sindarius Thornwell. He missed six games from December 4th until their league opener vs. Georgia with the team going 3-3 in his absence. Upon his return they closed the remainder of the regular season at 12-06 straight up while losing five of their last seven. I mention the importance of Thornwell, (SEC player of the year,) as he averages 21.4 PPG while leading the team in rebounding (7.3) and steals (2.2.) Thornwell as hits 39.8% from beyond the arc and bettered his season average netting an average of 26.5 in those victories vs. Marquette and Duke.
The line-up of South Carolina is big and physical, (they forced 18 turnovers vs. Duke,) and as a team they’re big enough to cope with 6′ 10″ Johnathon Motley, (19 points vs. USC.) Motley is almost certain to collect a paycheck in the NBA and their leader averaged 17.3 PPG while leading the BIG 12 in rebounding at (9.9.) The only other player on the Bears to average double-digits is Manu Lecomte at (12.3 PPG.) Their other “big” is 7′ 0″ Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. averaging (9.1 PPG,) along with 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Al Freeman performed well in their contest vs. New Mexico State with 21 points. On the whole Baylor did not enter the tournament with a lot of steam either as they finished at 5-6 straight up in their last 11 contests.
· The Gamecocks are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 neutral sites contests when an underdog.
· Baylor is 1-4 ATS in their last five tournament games.
· South Carolina is 9-1 ATS when away from home an off a non conference game.
· The Bears are 2-9 ATS (-7.9 Units) after playing 3 consecutive games as favorite.
· The Gamecocks are 30-15 ATS in road games after scoring 80 or more points.
· Gamecocks coach Martin/Team is 17-08 ATS in all neutral court games.
· Bears coach Drew/Team is -17.40-units after scoring 80 or more points.
· South Carolina coach Martin/Team is 33-19 ATS after a non-conference game.
· Baylor’s coach Drew/Team is -17.10-units after playing two consecutive games as favorite.
Every Edge in Review and Tonight’s Selection
· Yesterday’s selection on Gonzaga -2.5 “hooked” the Mountaineers and I am 11-13 ATS with the basketball selections.
My Every Edge selection for this evening is an investment on the South Carolina Gamecocks +4 @ -120.
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