#7 South Carolina (26-10; 15-16-2 ATS; 14-18 O/U) vs. #1 Gonzaga (36-1; 23-9-2 ATS; 16-18 O/U)
NCAA Tournament Final Four: Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 6:09pm EST
Line: Gonzaga -6.5
The South Carolina Gamecocks will battle the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Final Four round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday evening from the University of Phoenix Stadium. South Carolina has defeated Marquette, Duke, Baylor and Florida to reach the Final Four, and Gonzaga beat South Dakota State, Northwestern, West Virginia followed by a dominating win over Xavier in their path to the Final Four.
South Carolina’s Defense Shines Again in Elite Eight Win
The South Carolina Gamecocks have reached the Final Four for the first time in school history after defeated Florida 77-70 in the Elite Eight. The Gamecocks have played stifling defense the entire Tournament and that continued against Florida, holding the Gators to 41% shooting and the Gamecocks were able to convert on 49% of their shots. Sindarius Thornwell came through again in the win over Florida, sinking 26 points on 8 for 13 shooting. The senior guard has played phenomenal basketball the entire Tournament, scoring 24 or more points in the four wins, and is now averaging 21.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. P.J. Dozier also had a big night, recording 17 points on 7 for 11 shooting. The sophomore guard is averaging 15.2 points in the NCAA Tournament and a total of 13.7 points per game on the season. South Carolina has really made if difficult for the opposition to get good looks the entire Tournament, holding their opponents to an average of 39.5% shooting from the field over their four games. They will have to play another very strong defensive game once again going against a Gonzaga team that also plays outstanding defense. South Carolina is currently ranked 25th overall in Ken Pomeroy’s College Basketball Rankings.
The Gamecocks are averaging 73.2 points per game, ranking them 179th overall, and are shooting 42.2% from the field. South Carolina plays very strong defense, allowing an average of only 64.9 points per game, ranking them 31st in the Country.
Gonzaga Dominates Xavier to Reach First Final Four
The Gonzaga Bulldogs will be playing in the Final Four for the first time after a dazzling defensive performance in their 83-59 win over Xavier in the Elite Eight. The Bulldogs were sharp in both ends of the court, shooting 47.5% which included a 12 for 24 clip from three-point range, and held Xavier to 35% shooting. Nigel Williams-Goss bounced back from his subpar performance in the Sweet 16 by scoring 23 points along with eight rebounds. The junior guard is averaging 15.5 points over four NCAA Tournament games, and is up to 16.7 points per game on the season. Johnathan Williams was tremendous in the win over Xavier, scoring 19 points on an 8 for 12 mark from the field, and added eight rebounds. The 6-foot-9 junior forward is 19 for 34 from the field in the Tournament, and is averaging 10.3 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs are a team that are constantly labelled as over rated due to the conference they play in, however they have exemplified that they truly are one of the better teams in the Country. Gonzaga is ranked first overall in Ken Pomeroy’s College basketball Rankings.
The Bulldogs are very potent offensively, averaging 83.2 points per game, ranking them 14th in the Country, and are shooting a dazzling 50.9% from the field. Gonzaga plays incredible defense, allowing an average of only 60.9 points per game, good for fourth overall.
The South Carolina Gamecocks are:
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tournament games.
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games as an underdog between 0.5 to 6.5 points.
- 38-38-1 ATS in their last 57 non-conference games.
- 21-8-1 ATS in their last 30 neutral site games.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are:
- 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.
I am taking the points with South Carolina in this contest. South Carolina has consistently played stifling defense throughout the Tournament and they have taken down some elite teams to get to the Final Four, so I definitely expect them to keep this one close. Furthermore, the Gamecocks have really elevated their offensive output in this Tournament led by the dangerous Sindarius Thornwell who has scored 24 or more points in all four Tournament games. The Gamecocks are averaging 82 points over their four Tournament victories, and were able to shoot 49% against Florida, so I am confident they can do enough both offensively and defensively to hang around in this one. I know Gonzaga is the real deal but South Carolina is playing nearly perfect basketball defensively, and I think this will be a really close, low scoring game.