Florida the NCAA Basketball Pick to Rebound vs. Gamecocks

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 3:01 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Wednesday.

 

Recent opposing streaks may be serving to skew a line and give the underdogs value in the SEC Wednesday night when those slumping Florida Gators (7-6, 0-2 away) pay a visit to the hot South Carolina Gamecocks (9-3 6-1 home) at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on the SEC Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Florida as a small road underdog for this contest with the current line at +1½ with odds of -107.


Going in Opposite Directions
Yes the Gators return just two starters from the team that won 30 straight games last season before reaching the Final Four and losing to the eventual champions from Connecticut, but the two that did return, Dorian Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier II, are both talented and in fact are the two leading scorers this season, and they also return point guard Kasey Hill, who played significant minutes backing up Scottie Wilbekin last year.

Florida also added a senior transfer from Michigan in Jon Horford, who is a very good defender and rebounder. Thus, while this team may not be as good as that Final Four team, the 7-6 straight up start that has included two straight losses to Florida State and Connecticut (again) and the 3-8-1 ATS mark that has included four straight ATS losses are both disappointing and misleading.

South Carolina is going in the opposite direction at 9-3 straight up and 7-3 ATS as the Gamecocks have now been the winning NCAA Basketball picks in seven straight games after ending their non-conference season with a nice 64-60 win over 17th ranked Iowa State on a neutral court in Brooklyn on Saturday, and they are also on a 5-0 ATS run in lined games.


Defense Still Elite
Remember though that Florida has almost always improved as the season has gone on under Coach Billy Donovan, and with this being the SEC opener for both teams, now would be a nice time to turn things around. And despite the 7-6 start, it is not as if Florida has a really bad loss on its resume as five of the six losses have been to teams ranked in the Top 70 on the Pomeroy Ratings and the sixth was in a rivalry game at Florida State.

And through it all the Gators have remained one of the elite teams in the country defensively, ranking ninth in the land in defensive efficiency while allowing an effective field goal percentage of just 44.2 percent and also ranking 18th in defensive turnover percentage at 23.9 percent vs. a national average of 19.9 percent.

The problem has been the offense has not been nearly as good as in past years, but that is not to say it has been terrible either as the Gators still have a respectable effective field goal percentage of 50.8 percent. That 50.8 percentage matches their two-point percentage right now, as Florida has uncharacteristically not yet gotten things going from beyond the three-point arc at 33.8 percent, which is just a tick above the national average if 33.7 percent.

That may have more to do with the wrong people taking the shots though as the two leading scorers Finney-Smith (41.3 percent) and Frazier (37.5 percent) have been fine from three-point lead while the rest of the roster has been Brick City with the exception of limited contributor Chris Chiozza at 43.3 percent on limited attempts.

Look for Donovan to devise a game plan here with fewer three-point attempts by others besides the top two scorers as the Gators’ two-point percentage is actually much closer to where it was last season (51.3 percent).


Record Good, SOS Mediocre
Now the Gamecocks have been a pleasant surprise, but consider that Iowa State was their best win of the year and the Cyclones were then not very impressive in their Big 12 opener on Tuesday. South Carolina comes off of a 14-20 season last year that included a 5-13 SEC mark, and while some improvement was expected this season, we are not convinced this is really a 9-3 team, especially when looking at the schedule.

Yes the Cyclones now have two wins over Pomeroy Top 25 teams with Oklahoma State at home being the other conquest besides Iowa State, but we get the impression that both of those teams are overrated and do not forget that the Gamecocks also lost to 109th ranked (on Pomeroy) Charlotte and 131st ranked Akron just before the current winning streak began.

And besides the two wins over the potentially overrated Big 12 teams, none of the other seven wins came vs. a team ranked higher than 142nd and the current winning streak includes two non-lined wins over North Carolina A&T and a sub-division team called Coker. Add it all up and the South Carolina schedule is ranked 178th in SOS according to Pomeroy.


Head-to-Head Dominance
Besides the recent streaks of these teams possibly skewing this line and Florida having faced the much stronger schedule out of conference, do not forget that the underdogs Gators have dominated this head-to-head series winning the last six meetings overall straight up including winning 74-58 down in Gainesville and even more impressively 72-46 here in Columbia last year.

Look for that head-to-head dominance to continue, this time with Florida as a small underdog when visiting South Carolina on Wednesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Florida +1½ (-107)