Take The Points & Add LSU To Your NCAA Basketball Picks vs. South Carolina

Willie Bee

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 12:37 PM GMT

Ben Simmons leads the LSU Tigers in a critical SEC showdown tonight at South Carolina, part of our free NCAA basketball picks slate for Hump Day.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: LSU +4½
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

One could get by with the notion that each and every game on the college basketball schedule are important from here on out, and it would be tough to argue such a position. Still, it's nearly impossible to find a 10-day stretch of the slate that is more crucial in any league than what's about to go down in the Southeastern Conference.

The first of four critical games coming up on the conference fixture takes place at South Carolina on Wednesday night when the Gamecocks host the LSU Tigers with the tip coming a little past 7 PM (ET). ESPN2 will televise the matchup from Colonial Life Arena, South Carolina presently a 4½ favorite at 5Dimes with 152 for the total.

The Tigers currently sit atop the SEC ranks with an 8-2 record, South Carolina one of three teams just behind them at 7-3. The other two 7-3 squads are Texas A&M and Kentucky, and that foursome are going to be battling each other over the next 10 days. The Gamecocks follow this contest with a visit from the No. 22 Wildcats on Saturday.

LSU will head home after this tilt to host the No. 15 Aggies on the same day, while Texas A&M squares off with Kentucky in College Station on February 20. Add to that the regular season finale on March 5 in Lexington between the Tigers and Wildcats.

 

Tigers Seeking 4th-Straight Win Over Gamecocks
With at least a share of first place on the line Wednesday, South Carolina will be looking to reverse its fortunes against LSU. Or, should I say misfortunes since the Tigers have won the last three meetings dating to the 2012-13 campaign, and four of the last five.

Shut-down defense was what helped Johnny Jones' crew come away with a 64-58 triumph over USC in Baton Rouge a year ago. The Gamecocks were up by four towards the end of the contest before LSU's defense held them to just two points over the final 4½ minutes. Tim Quartermann came off the bench to lead LSU with 16 points and help the Tigers cover a 4½ point spread on the NCAA basketball odds.

The final fell well short of a 140 point total, giving 'under' bettors the cash in the last three encounters. South Carolina's last win in the series was in Baton Rouge in 2013, coincidentally the first meeting between Jones and Frank Martin as head coaches of their respective schools. The Gamecocks' last home win over LSU came in 2010, and totals have run 6-9 O/U in the last 15 meetings.

 

Gamecocks Unbeaten At Home In SEC Play
Since losing at A&M back on January 19, LSU (15-8 straight up, 8-13 against the spread) has won four of five and was just a bucket from making it 5-straight in a 77-75 loss to then top-ranked Oklahoma two weeks ago. The Tigers did manage to cover that one as 3 point underdogs, giving them three successive spread wins entering tonight.

They've also won three of five on the road in SEC play, the losses taking place at Florida and Texas A&M. That probably isn't going to impress a USC team that is a perfect 4-0 at home covering three of the four triumphs.

South Carolina (20-3 SU, 14-5-1 ATS) is coming off a road win of its own, taking down the Aggies this past Saturday in College Station where Texas A&M was 10 point home chalk. Sindarius Thornwell scored 25 and had nine assists for the Gamecocks who connected on 12-of-21 from 3-point range, their best in that column all season.

I remain skeptical of the Gamecocks and like the way LSU is playing right now, making my free NCAA basketball pick an easy one. Take the Tigers and the points in this one.

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