Another power five conference tournament will get underway today as the SEC Tournament tips off with the opening round games. One of those games will feature Ole Miss taking on South Carolina, and we’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be backing the underdog in this one.
It’s hard to find a more even first-round game in conference tournaments this season than this game, as both teams finished with an 11-20 record, and over the last ten games, Ole Miss went 2-8 while South Carolina went 3-7. The Rebels finished 3-15 in SEC play, mainly due to their 147th-ranked offensive efficiency rating on KenPom.
The Rebels will enter the tournament with a 47.5% effective field goal percentage, which ranks 314th in the country. Ole Miss was relying on a lot of second-chance looks for their offense, as they averaged 10.3 offensive rebounds per game this season, with Jaemyn Brakefield and Myles Burns leading the charge on the glass.
These two teams split the regular season series, with South Carolina winning the most recent matchup with a score of 64-61. What’s most impressive about that win for the Gamecocks is they pulled it off with their leading scorer GG Jackson only playing 12 minutes and scoring five points. The Gamecocks held the Rebels to 37% shooting from the field and 26% from three.
A lot of the struggles that Ole Miss had this season, South Carolina also had, as it was a challenge for them to produce offense on a nightly basis in the conference. The Gamecocks like to rely on the three-ball to provide a majority of their points, as they averaged 23.7 attempts per game; however, the problem is that they shot 32.4% from deep, which ranks 267th in the country.
Defensively, the Gamecocks' youth and offense-first mindset hurt them and led to them ranking 216th in the country in defensive efficiency rating on KenPom. However, South Carolina will enter today on a defensive high note, as they held Georgia to just 55 points in the final regular season game.
South Carolina is currently listed as +7 point underdogs, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. The Gamecocks were the much better ATS team this season as they went 7-3 ATS over their final ten games and 13-11 ATS when listed as an underdog. On the other hand, Ole Miss was 11-18-2 ATS on the season and lost outright in the last meeting between these two teams despite closing as -9 point favorites.
He has been a bit inconsistent recently, but South Carolina will have the best player on the floor in GG Jackson. In a game that could be low on offense due to how both sides have been shooting recently, having a scoring threat like Jackson is a big advantage.
The team’s played evenly across the board in the last meeting and even had the same amount of rebounds, so I think the number is a bit too high in favor of the Rebels. Ole Miss and their 284th-ranked shooting percentage have not proven they can build and sustain a lead over a team with similar numbers across the board.
South Carolina (+7)