Gunter: S-Carolina has MSU, ‘Bama on deck
Published on Tuesday, 1/26/16, at 12:15 a.m. Eastern.
Updated on Tuesday, 1/26/16, at 4:02 p.m. Eastern.
By William Gunter
Special to BrianEdwardsSports.com
Editor’s note: William Gunter is the co-host of Reynolds & Gunter, a Fox Sports Radio show on 1400 AM in Columbia, South Carolina, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. Eastern (Monday-Friday).
South Carolina (17-2; 4-2) returns to Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. for a two-game home stand this coming week with contests against Mississippi State on Tuesday night (7:00 p.m. SEC Network) and Alabama on Saturday (6:00 p.m. SEC Network). As of 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, most betting shops had Frank Martin’s team installed as an 8.5-point home favorite with a total of 148.5 points for ‘over/under’ wagers. You can monitor the line history here.
The Gamecocks are off a week in which they went 1-1 both straight up and against the spread as they rallied for a 77-74 victory in overtime at Mississippi as a 1.5 favorite. Martin’s bunch then dropped a 78-69 decision in Knoxville to Tennessee as a 1.5-point favorite on Saturday. The contest against the Rebels on Tuesday went over the posted total of 149 while the game with the Volunteers ended up being under the 157-point number set at game time.
Entering the week, the Gamecocks are now 12-4 ATS on the season, but they are just 3-3 ATS in SEC play and have dropped three of their last four ATS. The under has cashed in four of the six games the Gamecocks have played in conference and overall this season the team has played under the total in 9-of-16 games.
As of Sunday morning, the Gamecocks held an RPI of 22 (according to ESPN) with a strength of schedule of 205. The Gamecocks have played just one team however with an RPI of less than 50 and lost the contest to Alabama on the road. The team is 7-0 against teams with an RPI between 51-100 with their best win coming vs Vanderbilt who is ranked at 51.
This coming week, the Gamecocks will face Alabama who is currently ranked 41st in the RPI giving them a chance to pick up their first win of the season against a top 50 team. The Gamecocks other opponent Mississippi State is ranked dead last in the SEC with an RPI of 194.
Keep an eye on junior wing Sindarius Thornwell who has spent more time playing the point guard position in the last four games. Thornwell is still averaging 11.6 points per game but scored just 2 points in a road loss on January 13th against Alabama and then scored five points at Mississippi (1/19) and just two on Saturday at Tennesseev(1/23). The last three homes games for Thornwell though have seen him produce point totals of 18 (vs Memphis), 19 (vs Vanderbilt) and 22 (vs Missouri).
In the last five conference games, South Carolina has connected on 17-of-80 shots (21%) from three point range. During last week’s two game road trip, the team made just 8-of-28 from long range with reserve guard Duane Notice hitting six of those shots and starter Michael Carrera making the other two.
Speaking of Carrera, the senior combo forward appears to be finding his groove having led the team in scoring last week with totals of 19 points (and nine rebounds) at Mississippi and 22 points (and eight rebounds) at Tennessee. For the Gamecocks to continue their hot start, they will need Carrera to continue playing at a very high level.
There is no major injury news to report at this time. Sophomore guard Marcus Stroman suffered a concussion two weeks ago at Alabama and did not play the following game against Vanderbilt, however returned last week to play 15 minutes at Mississippi and 12 minutes at Tennessee.
This coming week will be an important one for the Gamecocks as they should be favored to win both games at home. Currently Bracketology models are projecting the Gamecocks to be seeded in the NCAA Tournament anywhere between a 7-10 seed. With a 2-0 week they should move into the 5-6 range with a big four game stretch coming up of at Georgia, at Texas A&M, LSU and Kentucky. Even with the Gamecocks firmly in the NCAA Tournament brackets at the moment, they likely need to win both games given their impending schedule to continue from finding themselves on the bubble heading into mid-February.
Weekly ATS Notes:
Mississippi State will enter Tuesday night’s contest 10-5 ATS but just 2-2 on the road. In their six conference games, the Bulldogs have alternated wins and losses ATS with their most recent outing a 83-77 victory over rival Mississippi however they did not cover the -7.5 number posted by Vegas. In their three conference road games this season, the Bulldogs are 0-3 straight up but 2-1 ATS covering double digit underdog lines of 10 vs Florida and 16 vs Kentucky while failing to cover +7.5 at Arkansas in a 82-68 loss. The over has hit in three of the last four Bulldog games including their two most recent road trips.
Since defeating South Carolina 73-50 in Tuscaloosa on January 13th, Alabama has dropped three games straight up however has produced a 2-1 record ATS. Overall in conference play, the Tide have been the betting favorite in just one of their games but have gone 3-3 ATS and 1-2 ATS when they play on the road. On the season, Avery Johnson’s ball club is 10-8 straight up with an ATS mark of 9-7 but 2-4 ATS on the road.. The under has cashed in 9-of-16 games for the Tide but in their six conference games, the over has hit in four of those games.