NCAA Betting Thursday: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Saint John’s Red StormSouth Carolina vs. St. Johns
Time: 7:30 PM EST
Spread: ST JO -7.5
M/L: ST JO -325, SO CA +275
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
South Carolina is 5-1 on the season but faces their toughest opponent tonight in the Big East’s Saint John’s, who are 4-2 in their own right. The Gamecocks finished just 10-21 last season and lost 14 of their 16 games in SEC play. Taking away Malik Cooke from the roster only further cripples the team, as Cooke led the way in scoring last year, with 12 points per game.
Their record last year was their worst since 1991-92, the first year they were in the SEC.
Head coach Frank Martin remains optimistic, but it’s hard to see how, with a team that Athlon magazine predicts to finish 14th in the SEC. Their 5-1 record is very deceptive, as they have yet to face a tough opponent and lost to Elon, which isn’t exactly a powerhouse. That’s why they find themselves 7.5 points underdogs to a Saint John’s team that isn’t a powerhouse either.
They’ve been without their top returning scorer Bruce Ellington, and filling the void has been LaShay Page (15.5 points per game), Brenton Williams (13.5 points per game), Michael Carrera (12.3 points per game) and Lakeem Jackson (11.2 pioints per game).
The Gamecocks go nine deep into their bench, with eight of the nine seeing 19 minutes or more per night, but their 76 points per game is inflated by their weak schedule Last year, they averaged just 61.4 points per game, which ranked 11th in the SEC.
The Red Storm finished 13-19 last season with a 6-12 record in the Big East, one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. They failed to qualify for postseason play and Athlon magazine predicts a trip to the NIT this year for Saint John’s.
Their best player is D’Angelo Harrison. Harrison is just a sophomore, but is averaging 21.2 points per game thus far this season. He had 27 points in the loss to Murray State, shooting 8-of-21 from the floor, and he has put up 20 or more in four of the last five games, with the lone exception being the game to Holy Cross, in which he scored 17 on just 6-of-18 shooting. Despite his gaudy scoring numbers, he’s shooting 44 percent from the floor, which is actually an improvement on his horrid 37 percent last year.
Phil Greene IV is playing nearly the entire game for the Red Storm, averaging 36 minutes per night and averaging 13.8 points per game. The 6’2″ sophomore from Chicago averaged 7.6 points per game last year as a freshman and though his playing time was predicted to decease this year, it has done just the opposite, despite having more help in the backcourt this season.
The addition of Jamal Branch was expected to help, but Branch ended up transferring to Texas A&M and took the best defender the Red Storm would have had out of the equation. Branch would have helped immensely, as the Red Storm finished with just 10.6 assists per game last season, and they now find themselves desperate at point guard (hence Greene’s huge workload).
Jakaar Sampson has been an impressive freshman thus far and is third on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game. The 6’8″ Sampson leads the team in rebounding with 6.2 per game and he attended the same high school as LeBron James (St. Vincent-St. Mary). He was rated as a top-50 recruit and has lived up to his potential so far.
Sampson will be a key to Saint John’s not only this season but also moving forward as the team has only one senior and no juniors. The host of underclassmen ail take time to develop, so the trip to NIT predicted by Athlon may even be a bit optimistic, but at 4-2 the Red Storm have been good so far.