Network Notebook: South Carolina at Florida Preview

SOUTH CAROLINA AT FLORIDA TUESDAY IS A HUGE GAME IN TIGHT SEC RACE

College basketball fans have gotten used to thinking of the SEC as "Kentucky and a Bunch of Dwarfs." But, Florida and South Carolina are definitely threats to make headlines in March. Florida already did that in February with a huge home win over Kentucky!

Heading into Tuesday Night's huge TV matchup featuring South Carolina at Florida...the Gators hold a tie-breaker lead over Kentucky at the top of the SEC standings (both 12-2). South Carolina is in third place, just two games back. Can the Gamecocks make it a three-way race? Let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicators stats have to say! You regulars know we use the publicly available efficiency data from Ken Pomeroy's landmark college basketball stat site...kenpom.com.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
S. Carolina: 105.8 per 100 possessions (#142 in the nation)
Florida: 116.0 per 100 possessions (#26 in the nation)

South Carolina has really struggled on this side of the floor by the standards of elite basketball. Sure, there are more than 300 teams measured. But, GOOD teams usually grade out a lot better than this! Carolina is very unlikely to "outscore" people, meaning they'll have to win on defense. Florida may not quite have a "championship" caliber offense...but there are certainly weapons here that can do a lot of damage. Kentucky can tell you all about that. Big edge on the offensive side to the Gators.

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
S. Carolina: 87.3 per 100 possessions (#3 in the nation)
Florida: 88.4 per 100 possessions (#4 in the nation)

Wow...talk about great defense! The first meeting between these two teams was a true defensive struggle. South Carolina won 57-53 in a game that stayed under market expectations by 25 points. They won despite shooting only 29% from the floor. Florida's woeful 0 for 17 mark on treys, and 15 for 28 mark on free throws. You have to assume the Gators are going to hit more of their open looks in Gainesville...so Carolina better come ready to play. (In terms of postseason preparation...you need to think of South Carolina as a great defensive team that can shock a power because of that defense...but NOT a team that's likely to string together victories unless they keep getting lucky late in close games. Florida's the more balanced, more dangerous tournament side.)

Pace Ranking
S. Carolina: #191
Florida: #123

Florida's a bit faster than average, which is hiding their great defense from the media to a degree. When will TV pundits and newspaper writers start adjusting for pace? South Carolina is slightly slower than average...which suggests this combination will play close to average head-to-head. Hopefully it won't be as ugly this time in terms of getting the ball in the bucket.

Against the Spread
S. Carolina: 10-12-2
Florida: 15-10

South Carolina is having trouble covering spreads, even though they're making a big step toward respectability in the national picture. That can happen to teams who struggle on offense...they can't score enough to cover! Florida is at a stellar 60% success rate. They weren't supposed to be THIS good. Guess the loss of Billy Donovan didn't devastate the program after all. A lot of people are guilty of underestimating the Gators this season.

Note that both Florida and Kentucky are projected to be #3 seeds according to the weekend bracketology. Florida can make a case for a #2 with an impressive win here and a good showing in the upcoming rematch with the Wildcats. South Carolina seems like a lock for the Dance, registering at a projected #7 seed with Joe Lunardi. There's so much inconsistency in that range...that Carolina could stub their toes a few times and still make the brackets because so many teams down in that range will also be losing.

Believe it or not...those three could be the only SEC teams in the Big Dance! Right now four are projected to get in...but Arkansas is barely on the right side of the bubble. Tennessee is just behind them on the wrong side of the bubble. The current three-team race may feature the only three teams who are going to matter next month. Use this Tuesday Night TV opportunity to scout South Carolina and Florida with the SEC tourney and Big Dance in mind.

JIM HURLEY will be looking at the pointspread in this game very closely in the hours leading to tip-off. He and his NETWORK won't force plays in TV games. But, they'll take advantage of any opening in marquee matchups that pop up from market forces. You can always purchase JIM HURLEY'S top game day selections right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours. Be sure to ask about "rest of the season" packages for both college and pro basketball. Value pricing allows for even greater profit!

Back with you soon to talk about the much-anticipated Louisville/North Carolina showdown that's set for Wednesday night. We're currently looking at a likely UCLA/Arizona preview for Saturday too...though other games (like that Florida/Kentucky rematch) might break through into the mix as well.

Whatever the day...whatever the conference...your home for BIG, JUICY WINNERS is JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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