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NCAAB Handicapping: Florida vs. S. Carolina (Jan. 21)

Gators at Gamecocks – SEC Showdown

BetUS NCAA Basketball Sports Betting Odds: FLORIDA -1.5
Here are some of the NCAA basketball sports betting trends as they relate to this matchup:

* FLA has won its last ten games SU
* FLA has covered three of its last nine games * FLA has played three of its last four games UNDER the total
* FLA has lost five of its last seven road games SU
* SC has won eight of its last 11 games SU
* SC has played five of its last seven games OVER the total
* SC has won 10 of its last 11 home games SU
* SC has played seven of its last nine home games UNDER the total

Also…

* FLA has won the last five meetings SU
* SC has covered five of the last seven meetings
* Six of the last eight meetings have gone UNDER the total
* FLA has won and covered six of the last seven meetings SU as the road team
* FLA has had the shooting edge in four of the last five meetings
* FLA has had the rebounding edge in seven of the last nine meetings
* SC has made more three-pointers in five of the last six meetings

Nick Calathes is averaging 17.7 points a game, but he has gotten hot lately, turning up the volume in wins over North Carolina State (32 points) and Arkansas (28). He’s shot 57% in the last six games, though as a ball-handler, the 6’6″ guard still has some work to do, as he has coughed up the ball 24 times over that period. He is by far the team’s leading assist man (6.7 per game), which means the Gators will have to get steadier play from him to be a force to be reckoned with on the national level.

This appears to be a down year for the SEC, which means the race for the conference title could be wide open. From that standpoint, Billy Donovan’s very young team has about as good a chance as any to emerge out of SEC play with the automatic bid. This team is on a ten-game winning streak, and although they probably should have had some trouble with Arkansas, they trampled the Razorbacks, hitting eleven three-point shots in an 80-65 win. Now Florida is rated again, holding the #24 position in the Associated Press poll. As many people in the press have pointed out, however, Donovan’s club started out winning 18 of its first 21 games last season, yet took something of a nose dive at the end to miss the NCAA tournament.

In the last two games, South Carolina has allowed its opponents to shoot 56% from the floor, and that is not good news when going up against a team that is 49% for the year and has as many three-point threats as Florida possesses. It is South Carolina, however, that leads all SEC schools in three-point shooting (38.8%) and forces more turnovers (10.1 steals per contest).

This game should be close, as five of the last six meetings at this location have been decided by six points or less. Key people for them will include fourth-year junior Devan Downey, who is averaging 19.6 points; Lithuanian natuive Evaldas Baniulis, who comes off the bench to hut 55% of his three-pointers, and 6’7″ forward Mike Holmes (8.1 rpg), who needs to compete on the inside.

What hurts is that the Gamecocks are still missing Branden Conrad, who didn’t score much but provided steady leadership at the point (2.3 assist-turnover ratio) and disrupted offenses (2.2 steals/game). Downey is the best player on the floor, though, and Florida finds itself playing on the road for only the third time this season. South Carolina won’t be intimidated by an up-tempo game, and having won 10 of its last 11 home games, this team might be worth the investment as the 1.5-point underdog in the BetUS Sportsbook college basketball sports betting odds.

Our PLAY: SOUTH CAROLINA +1.5 **

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