Game to be played at Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Seventh-seeded South Carolina takes part in the school’s first Sweet 16 under the current NCAA Tournament format when it faces third-seeded Baylor on Friday night in the East Region at Madison Square Garden in New York. And Gamecocks coach Frank Martin, whose team advanced thanks to what some are calling the biggest win in school history — an 88-81 upset of second-seeded Duke on Sunday night, wants to make sure his team isn’t satisfied just to be there.
South Carolina, which tied Arkansas for third place in the SEC, had barely began celebrating the victory over the Blue Devils in the locker room when Martin told his squad, “Hey, let’s go win this thing.” Mighty big talk for a team that hadn’t won an NCAA Tournament game in 44 years until knocking off No. 10 seed Marquette 93-73 in the first round but Martin wasn’t backing down when asked about the comment during a press conference this week. “I was too emotional to talk,” Martin said, “and at the same time I want those kids to believe (that) you guys have earned the right to go to the Sweet 16, that means you’re good enough to play anyone in the country. … I thought it was a powerful moment to let them know. It’s doesn’t mean that we’re going to win it but I believe we can win it.” With No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Duke out of the way in the East, Baylor, which began the year unranked, also has it sights set on getting to the Final Four as All-American forward Johnathan Motley told reporters: “I’m thankful for the opportunity and I want to take advantage of it.”
TV: 7:29 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: The Baylor Bears opened as 3-point favorites over South Carolina and by Monday afternoon that number was up a half point to -3.5. The total hit the board at 136.5 and has been bet down to 135. Check out the complete line history here.
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WHAT BOOKS SAY: Check out back later for sportsbook action report.
South Carolina – G Kory Holden (Out For Season, eligibility).
Baylor – No injuries to report.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA: SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell was somewhat under the radar nationally until Sunday’s upset of Duke when the 6-5 senior guard filled up the stat sheet with 24 points, six rebounds and a team-high five assists as the Gamecocks exploded for 65 second-half points. Thornwell leads the team in scoring (21.4), rebounding (7.3) and steals (2.2) while shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range and is the leader of a tough and physical defense that forced 18 Duke turnovers. Chris Silva, a 6-9 sophomore forward, added a career-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds against the Blue Devils and is averaging 10.0 points and 5.8 rebounds.
ABOUT BAYLOR: This marks the fourth time in 14 seasons under Scott Drew that the Bears made it to the Sweet 16 and they’ve advanced to the Elite Eight twice with wins over Saint Mary’s in 2010 and Xavier in 2012 while losing to No. 2 seed Wisconsin in 2014. Motley, a 6-10 junior forward who has played himself into NBA lottery consideration, leads the team in scoring (17.3) and led the Big 12 in rebounding (9.9), and had 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in the Bears’ 82-78 second-round victory over USC. Junior point guard Manu Lecomte (12.3) is the only other player averaging in double figures but 7-0 junior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., who averages 9.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, and junior guard Al Freeman, who had 21 points in the team’s 91-73 first-round victory over New Mexico State, have also been impact performers.
* Gamecocks are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.
* Bears are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. Southeastern.
* Over is 7-0 in Gamecocks last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Over is 6-1 in Bears last 7 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.
* Underdog is 6-0 ATS in the last 6 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 60 percent of Covers users are taking chalk with the Baylor Bears and Over is picking up 54 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.