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06.03.2024

Radford vs. South Carolina Upstate Game Preview and Pick: Spartans Battle Till Very End

Conference tournaments have only been in action for two days, and they have not disappointed. Buzzer beaters and overtime drama have already made their presence felt, which officially means March basketball is here. Of the events starting today, the Big South Tournament is set to tip off with the 8 vs. 9 matchup between South Carolina Upstate and Radford.

Despite being the higher seed, Radford is favored in this game by close to five points in most books, but I find it hard to believe they can pull away and mount a big lead over the Spartans tonight.

Game Preview

For a brief moment at the end of February, it looked as if Radford was going to avoid the dreaded 8/9 game in the Big South Tournament, but their momentum quickly fizzled out. In conference play only, Radford ranks 3rd in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to Bart Torvik, but it would be hard to tell if you just looked at their box scores since the Highlanders only broke the 80-point mark three times in conference play.

Two of those games came at the end of the season when they scored 90 and 88 points in consecutive games. Those are the exact types of performances a team needs heading into the postseason, but the only problem is that Radford would lose their final two regular-season games while scoring an average of 59.5 points in that span.

The Highlanders' third-ranked offense is led by DaQuan Smith (15.1 PPG), but the only problem is that DaQuan Smith fell into a shooting slump over the last two games of the regular season. This led to him shooting a combined 9-28 from the field and 1-9 from three.

Radford desperately needs Smith to get back to his usual self tonight against South Carolina Upstate. Mainly because the Highlanders rank dead last in the Big South in adjusted defensive efficiency rating (Bart Torvik). Conference opponents have a 52.9% effective field goal percentage against the Highlanders this season, which led them to fall to the Spartans in the last meeting between these two teams.

The Spartans scored 78 points in their last meeting with Radford, which is the type of offensive showing we did not see much from SC Upstate this season. Even with their win in the final game of the regular season, the Spartans still finished 8th in adjusted offensive efficiency in the conference.

Pick for the Game

We have already seen a decent amount of movement on the line for this game across most Virginia sports betting apps, but as of right now, SC Upstate is currently a (+5) point underdog in most shops. While the Spartans' lack of offensive consistency is concerning, I still think this line is too high in favor of a Radford team that is 326th in opponent mid-range shooting percentage per Haslametrics.

The Spartans' offensive strengths don’t jump off the page, but mid-range jumpers are one area they have been strong in. According to Haslametrics, the Spartans have the 79th-best mid-range shooting percentage in the country. Haslametrics also expects the Spartans to shoot 7.2% above the D1 average from mid-range locations, which, if you mix that with the likely slower tempo at which this game will be played, then it could be hard to put the Spartans away.

Defensively, SC Upstate also ranks near the bottom of the conference, but they’ve held Radford under 70 points in both meetings this season. If the Spartans have one strength on defense, it is forcing turnovers, so the more they can limit the Highlanders' possessions in a slow-paced game, the easier it will be to stick around.

Recap

  • SC Upstate (+5)(-102) on DraftKings

*odds subject to change

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