Providence vs. South Carolina
Tip off: 7 PM EST
Spread: SC -5.5
M/L: SC -240 / PROV +200
Betting Lines taken from Bookmaker
Last season was a losing campaign for the Friars, and a big reason was because they are playing in one of the toughest conferences in basketball. Outside the Big East, Providence finished 11-3, but within their own conference, they had a dreadful 4-14 record and they got blown out by Marquette in the first round of the Big East tournament while failing to qualify for any post season tournaments.
There is reason to believe things may be different this season, though the Friars have dropped 2 of their last 3 games. Overall, however, they began the season with a 4 game winning streak, with wins over Fairleigh, Fairfield, FAMU, and Southern University. Such a schedule is hardly a reason to inspire confidence, but only the Fairfield game was decided by less than 11 points, so the Friars did take care of business against the inferior opponents. What’s better for them is that they don’t face a ranked opponent until January 4th when they square off against the #3 ranked Syracuse Orange.
Last game against Holy Cross was a thriller. Providence won their 41st of 69 all time meetings between the two programs, as Vincent Council finished with 19 points and was only 3 rebounds shy of a triple double. The 6’2″ junior guard put up 26 against Northern Iowa, while attempting 22 field goals and hitting 11. The game against Holy Cross was an anomaly because he doesn’t ordinarly record double figure assists. The point guard averaged “only” 5.7 apg last season.
Gerard Coleman is making a huge difference for the Friars, as well. Coleman established himself last year as a freshman when he scored 10.3 points per game in the rugged Big East. The 6’4″ swingman is boarding the ball this year (6.7 rebounds per game) and has increased his scoring average by 6.4 points per game, despite seeing only 1 minute more per contest this season. If he can continue to contribute the way he has, the Friars could finish with a .500 record in the Big East, though asking for much more than that may be pushing it for a team that won only 4 in conference games last season.
The Gamecocks have gotten off to a rough start. Sitting at only 2-4 thus far, things are not looking rosy for a South Carolina team that has lost to the likes of Elon and Tennessee State, both of whom are hard to consider as much more than marginal D-1 programs (especially Elon). The 15 point blowout loss to #1 ranked UNC was forgiveable, and as is the 3 point loss to the USC Trojans on November 26th.
Last year, South Carolina finished 14-16 with a 5-11 SEC record. They lost to Mississippi in the first round of the SEC tournament, though they weren’t expected to move beyond the opening round. Their in conference offense was anemic, as they couldn’t manage a full point per possession (0.95), while they gave up 1.05 points per possession.
A large reason for this was their lack of “team” offense. They run too many isolation plays for players that wouldn’t even be top options on a lot of better teams. The lack of creativity has shown again this season, as South Carolina is averaging a mere 62 points per game, and they have only one scorer, Malik Cooke, in double figures, and he averages a mere 11.5 points per game.
They do have depth, however. There are 10 players on the squad seeing double digit minutes and only Cooke sees close to 30 minutes a game (29.3). The Gamecocks are worse than 200th in all major statistical categories and this season just might not be a very good one. Things did look good after a 25 point pounding of Western Carolina, but as I mentioned, it’s hard to gather momentum and strength when defeating programs like that.
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