(11) USC Trojans vs. (3) Baylor Bears (-7, 143)
Game to be played at BOK Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Two teams that seem to save their best for last match up in the second round of the East Regional when No. 3 seed Baylor faces No. 11 seed USC on Sunday in Tulsa. The Bears rallied from a second-half deficit to win for the 12th time this season in their 91-73 first-round victory over New Mexico State, while the Trojans have been the feel-good story of the tournament so far, coming back from 17 down to defeat Providence, 75-71, in a First Four game on Wednesday night and then rallying from a 12-point second half deficit to edge sixth-seeded SMU, 66-65, on Friday afternoon.
It was the 13th time that USC had a double-digit comeback win this season, the most such victories in Division I. “Our players are amazing the way they come back,” Trojans coach Andy Enfield said. “They get down, they come back. They keep playing for 40 minutes.” Baylor, which suffered first-round exits to 14th-seeded Georgia State and 12th-seeded Yale the previous two years, avoided making NCAA Tourney history by losing as a top-five seed in the first round three consecutive years, rallying from a 42-38 deficit with a little over 19 minutes remaining to defeat the Aggies. “Yeah, for sure,” All-American forward Johnathan Motley said when asked if the early exits served as extra motivation for his team. “No wants to leave the tournament early. Our ultimate goal was to come in and just win it, so we just want to take every game for what it is and make sure we come in and play our hardest, play desperate, because after this, you lose, you go home.”
TV: 7:45 p.m. ET, truTV
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Bears as 6-point chalk and they have been bet to the current number of -7. The total hit the board at 143 and has yet to move off of that number. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT USC: Junior guard Elijah Stewart, one of four Trojans averaging in double figures (12.0), was the hero against SMU, sinking a 3-pointer with 37 seconds to play for what proved to be the game-winner. “I feel like I was blessed that I was able to come back and redeem myself,” Stewart, who finished with 22 points, including 6-of-13 3-pointers, said referring to the fact he went scoreless in the First Four victory over Providence. Bennie Boatwright, a 6-10 sophomore forward, leads the team in scoring (15.1) while 6-11 Chimezie Metu (14.5) and junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin (13.2) also are averaging in double-digits with the long-armed, quick-leaping Metu also leading the team in rebounds (7.9) and blocks (1.6).
ABOUT BAYLOR: The 6-10 Motley, a Naismith Award semifinalist and the 16th All-American in school history, had his 14th double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) of the season against New Mexico State despite sitting out a large chunk of the first half because of foul problems. He leads the team in scoring (17.3) and the Big 12 in rebounding (9.9) and is considered a potential NBA lottery pick. Junior point guard Manu Lecomte, the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year, is second in scoring (12.3) while also shooting a team best 41.7 percent from 3-point range while junior guard Al Freeman (10.2) came off the bench to score a season-high 21 points, including 3-of-3 3-pointers, in Friday’s win.
* USC is 5-1 ATS in its last six games overall.
* Baylor is 7-1 ATS in its last eight non-conference games.
* Under is 5-1 in USC’s last six games overall.
* Over is 4-0-1 in Baylor’s last five non-conference games.
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(7) South Carolina Gamecocks vs. (2) Duke Blue Devils (-7.5, 142)
Game to be played at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina
Duke was considered one of the hottest teams in the nation entering the NCAA Tournament, while South Carolina slipped into the 68-team field despite a late-season swoon. The seventh-seeded Gamecocks came to life in a blowout first-round win, though, making for an intriguing matchup with the No. 2 seed Blue Devils in the second round of the East Region on Sunday in Greenville, S.C.
The Gamecocks were somewhat of an afterthought after losing five of their last seven leading up to the tournament, but they used a dominant second half to rout Marquette 93-73 on Friday for their first NCAA Tournament win since 1973. They also figure to have something of a home-court advantage playing at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, though the Blue Devils say they relish the thought of a hostile environment. “We like a game with noise,” Duke guard Grayson Allen told reporters. “That brings energy. We like playing in buildings where it’s loud. It gives everybody on the court energy.” The Blue Devils had little trouble in their opening game, pounding Troy 87-65 and picking up where they left off in last week’s run through the ACC Tournament.
TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: The Blue Devils hit the board favored by a converted touchdown and have been bet to the current number of -7.5. The total opened at 142 and has yet to move off that number. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks don’t boast the bevy of offensive stars that Duke has, but they might have the most dynamic player on the court in SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell (21.3 points, 7.3 rebounds). Thornwell went off for 29 points and 11 rebounds against Marquette, and fellow guard PJ Dozier (13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds) put up 21 points. Guard Duane Notice (10.1 points) is the only other Gamecock who averages double-digit scoring, but South Carolina counts on its defense to create offense and turned 18 Marquette turnovers into 25 points.
ABOUT DUKE: Much of the Blue Devils’ inconsistency throughout the season was tied to injury woes, and Duke is undoubtedly among the nation’s most talented teams when healthy. Leading scorer Luke Kennard (19.8 points, 5.2 rebounds) managed just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting against Troy, yet the Blue Devils were never in danger thanks to 18 points and 12 rebounds from freshman star Jayson Tatum (16.9 points, 7.5 rebounds) and 21 points off the bench from Grayson Allen (14.3 points, 3.5 assists). Big man Amile Jefferson (10.8 points, 8.2 rebounds) also had a relatively quiet night Friday but could be a major factor against the Gamecocks.
* South Carolina is 0-5 ATS in its last five games following a SU win.
* Duke is 5-0-1 ATS in its last six games overall.
* Under is 7-1 in South Carolina’s last eight games versus ACC opponents.
* Under is 13-3 in Duke’s last 16 non-conference games.
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