Reason why South Carolina will beat Baylor, or not
By: Raymond Hall
South Carolina plays Baylor Friday in New York City’s Madison Square Garden in the NCAA Basketball Sweet 16. The game begins at 7:29 p.m. and will be broadcast on TBS.
3 reasons why South Carolina will win:
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE: The Gamecocks must pace themselves if they want to stand any chance of winning. They cannot run up and down the court with Baylor. They must find a way to slow the game and set up their defense that stifled Duke in the second half of their second round matchup. USC scored 65 points in the second half to crush Duke last Sunday.
GIVE IT TO SINDARIUS: Give the ball to Sindarius Thornwell, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. The Gamecocks, to have any shot at Baylor, must have Thornwell have an excellent game. Thornwell must be effective scoring, rebounding, and passing the ball. However, his presence must also be felt on the defensive end as well. Big players must play big in this matchup.
RIDE THE EMOTIONS: Coming off of a big win against a perennial power in Duke, the Gamecocks must keep its momentum. Playing with emotion, winning the hustle plays, and fighting every second of those 40 minutes in the game is how South Carolina will win this game.
3 reasons why Baylor will win:
ZONE DEFENSE: Baylor’s 2-3 matchup zone will be difficult for the Gamecocks to score against. This defense forces opponents to shoot three-point shots and South Carolina shoots only 34 percent as a team from three-point range.
MAKE IT A TRACK MEET: Baylor’s high-octane offense is predicated off of its fast-break offense. Baylor uses that deadly matchup zone to force turnovers and push its up-tempo offense. This will not allow for South Carolina to set up its defense – the 8th-ranked most efficient in the country.
THE OLD GUYS: Experience will be a factor in this game. South Carolina lost to Kentucky earlier this year, 85-69. Baylor has a similar playing style to Kentucky, however, its best player is a junior and not a freshman like Kentucky. Johnathan Motley will be an essential piece if the Bears want to walk out of Madison Square Garden with a win Friday night.
The x-factor in this game will be free throw shooting. Every point is valuable and will make the difference from flying home Saturday or playing in the Elite Monday night.
Sindarius Thornwell scores two points between Duke players during South Carolina’s NCAA Region win in Greenville.Photo credit: http://www.travisbellphotography.com