Four Reasons Why the Gamecocks Can Beat Gonzaga

South Carolina Gamecocks player celebrating

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, March 30, 2017 1:13 PM GMT

Our college basketball handicapper writes to us exactly in the heart of Zags Country. Read on as he cautions against the overconfidence that he sees from all of the fans around him. South Carolina has a chance.

Let’s just be honest here, I live about 30 minutes from Gonzaga’s campus and this place is hog wild over the Bulldogs right now. As a listed 7-point favorite over South Carolina in their first Final Four game ever, spirits are high. Probably too high, actually, as South Carolina has as good of a chance to put a stop to Gonzaga’s run as anyone. Let’s temper our expectations a bit and run down some reasons why South Carolina can win this game, or at least cover the spread.

 

Playing Basketball in a Football Stadium Effects Shooters

This game will be played in the NFL stadium of the Arizona Cardinals. I can only imagine the differences in depth perception for a shooter between practicing in the cozy confines of The Kennel of Gonzaga all week and that stadium. This difference will be even more pronounced for the Bulldogs than South Carolina this week. There is recent history that suggests playing in NFL-sized stadiums effects Gonzaga as well. In their last Elite 8 run in 2015, they played at NRG Stadium in Houston. They shot 3-19 (15.8%) from beyond the arc in their Sweet 16 game against UCLA and 2-10 (20%) against Duke in the Elite 8. Neither one of those teams shot as poorly from distance as Gonzaga.

 

South Carolina Revels in Being the Spoiler

Based on recent trends, which are actually quite obvious given that South Carolina has made it to the Final Four as a 7 seed, the Gamecocks play well as an underdog. They also play well at neutral courts, which this may not be as much with Gonzaga being on the West Coast. South Carolina is 20-8-1 ATS in their last 29 neutral site games as an underdog. They are also 38-18-1 ATS in their last 57 non-conference games.

 Length in the Back Court

Although not a very big advantage this time around, South Carolina has one of the tallest back courts in the country. This is especially advantageous on defense where that length clogs passing lanes and can create turnovers. This has been one of my key indicators for finding live dogs all year, and it continues here for South Carolina, just as it did last week for them against Florida.

 

Zags Under Pressure, ‘Cocks Have Nothing to Lose

There is a bit to the fact that a team not expected to win can play without the pressure that a favorite will have on them. In this case, Gonzaga is a clear favorite and has a monkey on its back to finally get a championship, where South Carolina has really nothing to lose here. The Gamecocks’ season will be a fantastic success even if they lose this game. Playing with reckless abandon, South Carolina has a puncher’s chance in this game – and the next if they make it that far.

 

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