NCAAT Round 2 Game Preview
#2 Duke Blue Devils [27-8] vs. #7 South Carolina [23-10]
March 19, 2017 • ~8:40 PM ET • Greenville, SC • Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Media: TNT, Blue Devil IMG Sports Network
By Randy Dunson [Note: Please direct comments, suggestions, etc. to @RandyDunson]
College basketball action on Sunday evening and the 7th seeded South Carolina Gamecocks will square off with the 2nd seeded Duke Blue Devils in the 3rd round of the NCAA Tournament from Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. The Gamecocks enter this game off a 93-73 rout of Marquette, but they have still lost five of their last eight games, while the Blue Devils are off an 87-65 win over Troy and they have now won their last five games in a row.
The South Carolina Gamecocks did not play well down the stretch of the season, but they shook off their rough finish by taking out Marquette in their opener of the NCAA Tournament by a score of 93-73. The game was close for much of it, but the Gamecocks pulled away in the last 10 minutes for the easy 20-point win. This was expected to be a close game as the game was listed as a Pick, but Carolina had other plans. South Carolina has not been a great offensive team this year, but they had a very good game at that end of the floor in the win over the Golden Eagles as they shot a solid 52.9% from the field overall and 33.9% from long-range. The defense did not have a great game as they allowed Marquette to hit 46.3% of their shots overall, including 39.3% from long range, but they did force 17 turnovers, while committing just eight of their own and that went a long way to helping them to the easy win. Leading their attack in the win was Sindarius Thornwell, who had 29, while PJ Dozier had 21, Chris Silva had 12, and Duane Notice had 10.
The Gamecocks have averaged 73.2 PPG on 40.0% shooting and they have allowed 68.2 PPG on 42.2% shooting on neutral courts this year. South Carolina enters this game ranked 190th in the nation in scoring, putting up 72.7 PPG, while also ranking 300th in FG% (41.9%), 236th in 3-point shooting (33.9%) and 213th in free throw shooting (69.1%). At the defensive end of the floor they have been very strong as they come in ranked 29th in points allowed, giving up 64.7 PPG, while also ranking 18th in defensive FG% (40.0%) and 7th in 3-point defense (29.7%).
The Duke Blue Devils are a number two seed and they were taking on 15th seeded Troy on Friday and they were in a bit of a tussle for a little while before wearing down the Trojans late. The game was played between eight and 12 points for much of it, but Duke was able to pull away for the easy win late. They won the game by a score of 85-67, which allowed them to cover the 19.5 point spread. Duke shot a solid 46.8% from the field overall, including 46.4% from long-range. Grayson Allen led the way with 21 points, while Jayson Tatum had 18 and Frank Jackson and Matt Jones each had 14 to round out their double-digit scorers in the game. The defense has been strong for much of the year and they allowed troy to hit just 41.7% of their shots overall, including just 21.7% from long-range, plus they forced 17 turnovers, while committing just eight of their own. Duke is thought by many to be headed to the Final Four and they are playing very well right now as they have won their last five in a row.
The Blue Devils have averaged 85.7 PPG and have allowed 66.2 PPG in neutral site games this year. Duke checks in at 28th in the nation in scoring, putting up 80.8 PPG, while also ranking 35th in FG% (47.5%), 57th in 3-point shooting (37.9%) and 31st in free throw shooting (75.6%). At the defensive end of the floor they have been solid as they come in ranked 112th in points allowed, giving up 69.7 PPG, while also ranking 150th in defensive FG% (43.2%) and 4th in 3-point defense (29.2%).
A couple of scenarios just for fun:
South Carolina wins if…
They lock down the perimeter. The Gamecocks have played smothering defense for most of the season, but they allowed Marquette to sink 11-of-28 threes in the first round (39.3 percent). If South Carolina does not rotate, close out, and push Duke off the three-point line, it will be in trouble.
On top of that, Duane Notice has to be more efficient from the floor. He notched only 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, and he was 2-of-10 from behind the arc. If he continues to draw iron, the Blue Devils will get out and run thanks to some long rebounds.
Duke wins if…
The talent continues to shine. Pick your poison: Frank Jackson, Jayson Tatum, and Grayson Allen all shined through in the first round. That means you can probably expect a breakout game from Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson, and maybe even a Harry Giles showing, in the second round. If Duke can continue staying balanced and the upperclassmen and youngsters continue to gel, this is a Final Four team.
Also, shooting around the 50% mark from three-point land helps keep the pressure on clubs while the Blue Devils pull away.
Now let us get serious again…
This has the potential of being a very good game, even though the Blue Devils have won their last five games in a row, while South Carolina has won just two of their last eight. I also feel that it has the potential of being a lower scoring game than expected. The Gamecocks do have a strong defense and their offense is not good enough to duplicate what it did against the Golden Eagles. The Blue Devils have had a strong defense for much of the year and they should be able to keep. The South Carolina offense under wraps. The Gamecocks have allowed just 63.5 PPG in neutral site games, while the Blue Devils have allowed just 71.1 PPG on neutral courts this year. This game does have the potential of being a close one and that means a lot of walking the ball up the court the last 10 minutes or so and that will help keep the scoring down.
The South Carolina defense will be exposed against Duke’s playmakers. Tatum will start off hot from the field and will end up leading the Blue Devils in points. Allen will chime in with some clutch threes, and the Gamecocks will not be able to sustain a steady flow on offense long enough to keep pace with Duke. Some good ball movement and clutch shooting will keep the Blue Devils dancing. I believe the Devils prevail over the Gamecocks, 86-73