It’s hard to believe but we’re already in the fourth year of basketball under Frank Martin at South Carolina. Can they Gamecocks continue to grow in the SEC and start the year off on a high note?
South Carolina enters the season with plenty of momentum as they’re on the upswing…at least it appears. They have had three subpar seasons under coach Martin but remember that this program had been in the dumps before he got there. They’ve been making steady progress. They won 14 games the first two years he was on the job but managed to finish above .500 with a 17-16 record last season. Beyond that, this is a team that’s returning a lot of quality as five of their top six scorers are back. Beyond that, a highly-touted freshman class has been added to bolster the lineup.
Although Norfolk State might seem like a cupcake matchup, it is worth noting that this is a team that won 19 games last season. As a matter of fact, they’ve accomplished that feat in each of the last four seasons while registering to trips to the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina hasn’t even made it once in that span. They are led by coach Robert Jones, who has been on the job for two years and guided the team to 39 wins. Only two starters are back from last year’s squad but the good news is that it’s the primary ball-handlers: Jeff Short and D’Shon Taylor. Short was just named as the MEAC Preseason Player of the Year. They don’t bring big a lot of experience but this tandem is quite stellar.
South Carolina was a decent home team last year as they were 10-6. That translates to a 62.5% winning percentage. Playing in Columbia was a clear edge for them as they were just 3-7 on the road last season.
As for Norfolk State, they were almost a .500 team on the road as they were 8-10. However, remember that they have a lot of new faces in the lineup, so we might not be able to rely on carryover for these trends as much. At home, they were 10-3 last season.
Nothing to note.
What’s The Pick?
This is going to be the first of five games in 10 days for the Gamecocks, who will host Oral Roberts on Monday prior to heading to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam. The crux of handicapping the NCAA Basketball odds here comes down to what each team has returning. South Carolina returns a lot (as mentioned above) and has a stellar freshman class coming in. As for Norfolk State, they only have two returning starters from the team that was the runner-up in the MEAC. Eight letter winners are gone. With that being the main difference, roll with South Carolina for your NCAA Basketball picks here. They should win by 10 or 11.
NCAA Basketball Pick: South Carolina at Pinnacle