2017 NCAA Tournament
#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs #7 South Carolina Gamecocks
Saturday, April 1, 2017, 6:05 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
Opening Line: Gonzaga -7
Current Line: Gonzaga -7 (-105)
Opening Total: 138
Current Total: 138
Opening Money Line: Gonzaga -280 / South Carolina +240
Current Money Line: Gonzaga -300 / South Carolina +250
Interestingly, both Final Four match-ups Saturday feature teams from the Pacific Northwest versus teams from the Carolinas. The #1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the #7 South Carolina Gamecocks in the first game in Glendale, Arizona, followed by the #1 North Carolina Tar Heels against the #3 Oregon Ducks. While North Carolina is making their 20th trip to the Final Four, the other three teams have combined for one trip to the Final Four. Gonzaga and South Carolina have never been, and Oregon has not been to the Final Four since winning the inaugural national championship in 1939. Gonzaga and South Carolina have never met in basketball before.
South Carolina is coached by Frank Martin and are 26-10 this season. South Carolina’s men’s team looks to join their women’s team in the National Championship game. 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 of the East Region. 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 regional semifinals and SEC rival #4 Florida 77-70 in the regional final last Sunday, both in New York City. South Carolina is making their ninth trip to the tournament, and first since 2004. Before this tournament, they had not won a tournament game since 1973. The Gamecocks had not even 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 15-16-2 ATS and the total is 14-18-1. The Gamecocks were 3 point underdogs against Florida and the total was 136.
Gonzaga is coached by Mark Few and is 36-1 this season. The Bulldogs won the West Coast Conference regular season title with a 17-1 record and beat rival St, Mary’s 74-56 in the WCC Championship game in Las Vegas. Gonzaga beat #16 seed South Dakota State 66-46 in the West first round and #8 Northwestern 79-73 in the second round, both in Salt Lake City. Gonzaga beat #4 seed West Virginia 61-58 in the Sweet 16 and #11 Xavier 83-59 in the regional final Saturday, both in San Jose. Gonzaga is making their 20th trip to the tournament including every year since 1999. The Bulldogs made the Elite Eight for the third time but have never made the Final Four until this season.
Gonzaga lost at home in the regular season finale to BYU 79-71. The Bulldogs have home wins over San Diego State, Washington, Akron, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, St. Mary’s, Portland, San Diego, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Pacific. Gonzaga has road wins over Pacific, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Portland, Pepperdine, BYU, Loyola Marymount, St. Mary’s, and San Diego, plus neutral site wins over Quinnipiac, Florida and Iowa State in Orlando, Arizona in Los Angeles, Tennessee in Nashville, plus Pacific, Santa Clara and St. Mary’s in Las Vegas. Gonzaga is 23-9-2 ATS and the total is 16-18 this season. The Bulldogs were 8.5 point favorites against Xavier and the total was 144.5.
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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. The SEC player of the year missed a couple of days of practice this week with an illness, but he is listed as probable. 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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Gonzaga is outscoring teams 84-61 this season. The Bulldogs are #14 or better in both categories. Gonzaga is shooting 51.2% from the field and 37.4% from 3 point range. The Bulldogs are #2 nationally in field goal percentage. Gonzaga makes 72.7% of their free throws. Bulldog opponents are shooting 36.7% from the field and 29.9% from 3 point range. Gonzaga is #2 nationally in field goal defense and #7 in three point defense. The Bulldogs average 40.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.4 per game. Gonzaga averages 15.6 assists, 11.3 turnovers, 7.1 steals, and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.7 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.
Nigel Williams-Goss averages 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Przemek Karnowski averages 12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Jordan Mathews averages 10.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Zach Collins averages 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Johnathan Williams averages 10 points and 6 rebounds per game. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, and Killian Tillie will also get minutes. Center Jacob Larsen is out for the season with a knee injury.
South Carolina is 4-0 ATS in NCAA Tournament games, against teams with winning records, and overall, 21-8-1 in neutral site games, 20-8-1 as a neutral site underdog, 7-3-1 as an underdog, 38-18-1 in non-conference games, and 1-6-1 in Saturday games.
Gonzaga is 21-6-2 ATS against teams with winning records, 12-4 in Saturday games, 6-2-1 in non-conference games, 20-7-2 after a win, 20-7-1 after a cover, 36-15-2 overall, 34-15-2 as a favorite, 1-3-1 in NCAA tournament games, and as an NCAA Tournament favorite.
These are two of the best defensive teams in the country. South Carolina has been very impressive especially in the second half of games during this run deep into March and now early April. Gonzaga has more talent but so did Duke, Baylor and Florida. I like Gonzaga to win a close low scoring game to advance to the national championship game Monday.