(4) South Carolina (22-9) will face (5) Florida State (24-8) today in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte, NC. The winner of the game will move on to the Sweet 16 in the Greensboro Regional.
The Gamecocks handled (13) Belmont in the first round 74-52. The Seminoles edged (12) Bucknell 70-67 in the first round.
South Carolina has risen to elite status as a program under head coach Dawn Staley. They are only two years removed from a National Championship. However, this is a bit of a transition year for the Gamecocks. They are coming off of a disappointing SEC tournament where they were bounced in their first (and only) game by Arkansas 95-89.
However, while this isn’t a vintage South Carolina team there is still plenty of talent on the roster. The Gamecocks feature a balanced offense with three players averaging between 11 and 12 points a game. They are led by 5’8 junior guard Te’a Cooper (11.7pts) who is a transfer from Tennessee. Alexis Jennings (11.2pts, 6.3reb) is a 6’3 senior forward who leads the team in rebounding. 5’10 Tyasha Harris (11.1pts, 5.4ast) is a junior point guard who makes the team go.
South Carolina is 37th nationally in offensive points per possession (1.016) while FSU is 94th (.959). The Gamecocks are 140th in defensive points per possession (.883) while FSU is 83rd (.859).
Neither of these teams are known for their shooting but USC is the far deeper team as they go 11 deep while FSU only has eight healthy players on the entire roster.
Rebounding will be key in this game. These teams are evenly matched on the offensive boards as they are tied in offensive rebounding percentage at 59th nationally. However, FSU holds the decisive edge in defensive rebounding percentage checking in at 56th in the nation while USC is 233rd.
This is a winnable game for FSU but it won’t be easy. The first priority is to stay out of foul trouble. FSU doesn’t have the depth to win a war of attrition. Of course a good shooting day would make things much easier but FSU struggles from behind the arc (.278). Therefore, the Seminoles would be greatly aided by a good day on the boards as second shots would help.
South Carolina is currently ranked 18th in the RPI while the Noles are 20th. FSU is currently a 3.5 point underdog. The game will tip today at 2pm and will be broadcast on ESPN2.