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South Carolina vs Auburn Gambling Preview & Free CBB Picks

Gamecocks vs Tigers Handicapping

The Southeastern Conference’s tourney gets underway between two football-mad schools, which is not very surprising considering this is SEC country. [ad-4468020]

South Carolina Gamecocks (12-19, 5-13 SEC) vs Auburn Tigers (14-15, 6-12 SEC)
SEC Tournament, First Round
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 7 pm EST
Venue: Georgia Dome, Atlanta GA
Broadcast: ESPN

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With a couple notable exceptions, the SEC doesn’t make apologies about having a pigskin-first athletic mission statement.

But the show must go on, and for the Gamecocks and the Tigers, advancing to the next round of games keeps alive their hope of playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Auburn features a solid offensive backcourt of senior Chris Denson and junior K.T. Harrell. Denson, especially, is a gifted player with a well-rounded game. Both players average north of 18 points per game and Harrell also drills 36% of his 3-point attempts. Denson is adept at distributing the ball and locking down on defense.

The Tigers are coming off an impressive win against newly-minted conference foe Texas A&M, 69-64. Most of Auburn’s wins this season came during the non-conference schedule, although the team has gone .500 since February 26. Auburn’s biggest deficiencies are its inability to circulate the ball well (excluding its star player) and poor rebounding.

Senior Asauhn Dixon-Tatum leads the club with six rebounds per game, but he is a 7-footer and you’d expect more.

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For South Carolina’s part, its high-strung coach Frank Martin will be serving a one-game suspension, after going positively cuckoo in the Gamecocks’s last fixture against Mississippi State. After a meeting with the school’s brain trust, Coach Martin allegedly needs to “work on his issues.” Most of us would probably be a bit hot under the collar given the lacklustre product the ‘Cocks have been rolling out on the court this season. South Carolina is led by senior guard Brenton Williams and also feature a talented freshman in Sindarius Thornwell.
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The 6″5 in-state product scores 13.5 PPG and also rebounds and passes the ball with ease. Unfortunately, with the exception of Williams the Gamecocks are a horrible shooting team. Their inaccuracy firing the ball at the basket goes far to explain their offensive woes. Williams hits 43.5% of his field goals, 43% of his threes and 95% of his free throws, and South Carolina is still ranked 296th in the nation in team field-goal percentage. That hurts.

This game is important insofar as pulling a Cinderella-like upset of the SEC Tournament will be the only way either of these teams will see action in March Madness.

These teams may get an invite to the NIT, but even then it might be an early conclusion to these teams’s campaigns. It is often exciting to see an unheralded team make a deep run in a conference tourney, not unlike Ole Miss did with a freshman Marshall Henderson three years ago, but needless to say the deck is stacked against these two teams challenging the likes of Florida or Kentucky or even Georgia for the SEC crown.

In this particular match-up, you have to like Auburn’s chances due to the Tigers’s superior offensive potential and the dynamic pairing of Denson and Harrell.

Not to mention Auburn’s noticeable size advantage; in addition to Dixon-Tatum, the Tigers suit up two freshman seven-footers. They also feature a Canadian, a Belgian and a Lithuanian in their rotation, so at least a fairly sub-standard basketball team is well represented at the United Nations.

Still, in this opening round SEC tilt, there is a bad team and there is a worse team. Look for Auburn to advance into the second round in Atlanta.

Auburn 74, South Carolina 60

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