2017 NCAA Tournament
East Regional Final
#4 Florida Gators vs #7 South Carolina Gamecocks
Sunday, March 26, 2017, 2:20 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Madison Square Garden – New York, New York
Opening Line: Florida -4 1/2
Current Line: Florida -3 (115)
Opening Total: 135
Current Total: 134 1/2
Opening Money Line: Florida -185 / South Carolina +160
Current Money Line: Florida -170 / South Carolina +150
Two long time SEC rivals meet in an unlikely East Regional Final in New York Sunday as the 27-8 Florida Gators take on the 25-10 South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gators are the #4 seed in the region and the Gamecocks are the #7 seed. The winner will take on the West Champion #1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Final Four nest week in Glendale, Arizona. Florida leads the series 44-24 against South Carolina. The teams split the season series with each winning at home this season. The Gamecocks won in Columbia 57-53 January 18, and the Gators returned the favor in Gainsville 81-66 February 21.
South Carolina is coached by Frank Martin. The Gamecocks finished tied for third in the SEC with Arkansas at 12-6. South Carolina was upset by Alabama 64-53 in the SEC quarterfinals in Nashville. South Carolina beat #10 Marquette 93-73 in the first round and upset #2 Duke 88-81 in the second round. The Gamecocks had the luxury of playing the first two rounds in their home state by playing in Greenville. The Gamecocks beat #3 Baylor 70-50 in the semifinals Friday. South Carolina is making their ninth trip to the tournament, and first since 2004. Before last weekend, they had not won a tournament game since 1973. The Gamecocks had not advanced to the Elite Eight until this year.
South Carolina has neutral site losses to Seton Hall in New York City, and Alabama in Nashville, plus road losses at Memphis, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Ole Miss. The Gamecocks have home losses to Clemson, Alabama and Arkansas. South Carolina has home wins over Louisiana Tech, Monmouth, Michigan, Vermont, Florida International, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Florida, Auburn, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi State. The Gamecocks have a neutral site win over Syracuse in Brooklyn, plus road wins over South Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State. South Carolina is 14-16-2 ATS and the total is 13-18-1. The Gamecocks were 3 point underdogs against Baylor and the total was 143.5.
Florida is coached by Mike White. The Gators finished second in the SEC with a 14-4 record. Florida was upset by Vanderbilt 72-62 in overtime in the SEC quarterfinals in Nashville. Florida beat #13 seed East Tennessee State 80-65 in the first round and crushed #5 seed Virginia 66-39 in the second round, both in Orlando. Florida escaped with an 84-83 overtime win over #8 seed Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 Friday. Not only was it the first overtime game of the tournament but the first buzzer beater as well as Chris Chiozza hit a running three pointer as time expired to give Florida the win. Florida is in the tournament for the 20th time and in the Elite Eight for the ninth time. The Gators look to return to the Final Four for the sixth time.
Florida is coached by Mike White. The Gators have neutral site losses to Gonzaga in Orlando, Duke in New York City and Vanderbilt in Nashville, road losses at Florida State, South Carolina Kentucky and Vanderbilt, plus a home loss to Vanderbilt. Florida has won three straight games all by at least 32 points. The Gators have neutral site wins over Seton Hall and Miami in Orlando, Belmont in Tampa, and Charlotte in Sunrise, FL. Florida has home wins over Little Rock, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Arkansas. The Gators have road wins over Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Georgia, Auburn and Mississippi State. The Gators are 19-13-1 ATS and the total is 15-18 this season. Florida was a 1 point favorite against Wisconsin and the total was 130.5.
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South Carolina is outscoring 73-65 this season. South Carolina is #32 in points allowed nationally. The Gamecocks are shooting 41.9% from the field and 33.8% from three point range. South Carolina makes 69.7% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40% from the field and 30% from 3 point range. The Gamecocks are #18 nationally in field goal defense and #9 in three point defense. South Carolina averages 36.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.9 rebounds per game. The Gamecocks average 12.8 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 7.9 steals and 3.8 blocks per game. Opponents averages 9.6 assists, 17.3 turnovers, 6.1 steals and 3.7 blocks per game.
Sindarius Thornwell averages 21.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game. P.J. Dozier averages 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Duane Notice averages 10.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Chris Silva averages 10 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Four other players average at least 14 minutes a game. Kory Holden is out for the season because of eligibility issues.
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Florida is outscoring teams 78-66 this season. The Gators are #68 or better in both categories. The Gators are shooting 45.1% from the field and 36.1% from three point range. Florida makes 72.6% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40.5% from the field and 30.4% from three point range. Florida is #26 or better in both categories nationally. The Gators average 37.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.7 per game. The Gators average 12.6 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 7.6 steals and 4.7 blocks. Opponents average 9.6 assists, 14.9 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.
KeVaughn Allen averages 13.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Canyon Barry averages 11.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Devin Robinson averages 11.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Kasey Hill averages 9.7 points, 3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game. John Egbunu averages 7.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Four other players will get time in the rotation. Dontay Bassett is out for the season with a foot injury.
South Carolina is 3-0-1 ATS as a neutral site underdog, 5-1-1 as an underdog of less than 6.5 points, 5-2 in Sunday games, 20-8-1 in neutral site games, 4-9 overall, 2-5 after a straight up win and 1-9 against SEC teams.
Florida is 3-0-1 ATS as a favorite of less than 6.5 points, 6-1-1 as a neutral site favorite, 3-1-1 in neutral site games, 15-5-1 as a favorite of less than 6.5 points, 20-9-1 as an NCAA tournament favorite, 22-10-1 in NCAA Tournament games, and 33-16-2 as a favorite. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in this series recently.
South Carolina is playing their best basketball of the season. Florida was lucky to escape with a win against Wisconsin. I think the Gators have more talent but this is a rivalry game and anything can happen. I like the Gators to win a high scoring game.