In a battle of top-seeds, the number one-overall seeded Stanford takes on the mighty Gamecocks. Neither team has exactly been challenged so far, with Stanford’s closest game coming against Louisville, which was close early on, but Stanford ended up winning by 15. South Carolina is in a similar position after taking care of the Hemisfair Region, cruising by Texas in the regional final.
This matchup should be anything but a blowout, however, as sparks will fly in this game. It will be a prolific offense vs. a brick-wall defense where officiating might sway the game one way or another. There is a lot to break down in this game, so let’s get to it.
*Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
- Lines: Stanford -5.5; O/U 134.0 at DraftKings Sportsbook
- Location: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
- Time: 5:00 PM CT
- Television: ESPN
Stanford has shown it can turn on the jets when called upon, but besides their matchup vs. Missouri State, the Cardinal have been sluggish at times in their games. Especially against Louisville, leading scorer Kiana Williams seriously struggled early on, and Louisville went into halftime with a 38-26 lead.
With that being said, the fact that Stanford finished the game on a 52-25 run in the second half just goes to show all the offensive options in their arsenal. Lexie Hull posted 21 points, but Ashten Prechtel was another star, going 6-for-6 from the field to tally 16 points for the Red Birds. Even when their major players are down, different players can step up. The only issue is that if Stanford falls into a hole against South Carolina, they might not be able to get out as easily.
The Gamecocks ranked 13th in the nation in opponent points per 100 possessions, sitting at 79.3. Their opponents shoot at just a 36.2% clip, and they only allow 20% of opponent points to come from three. In the tournament, South Carolina only allowed one team to reach 60 points, and they absolutely suffocated Texas’ offense, limiting the Longhorns to just 34 points, forcing a goose egg in the final quarter.
If South Carolina hopes to win this Final Four matchup, it will be with their defense, but their offense has to step up as well. Aliyah Boston needs to have a solid game. The Gamecocks have to dominate the offensive glass, take advantage of second-chance opportunities, and play physical while doing their best to avoid foul trouble to win.
Many experts seem to be taking Stanford without a second thought, but I really see this game as a toss-up. Stanford hasn’t faced a defense as tough as South Carolina, but South Carolina hasn’t seen an offense with as many weapons as Stanford.
The Cardinal have shown that when they put a full game together, they can beat anyone, and they should do just fine if they can play four quarters of efficient basketball. The only problem is that they haven’t exactly done that this tournament. If Stanford does find itself in a scoring drought, South Carolina has to capitalize on those opportunities.
This should be a stellar game that I expect to come down to the wire. I have spoken on Stanford needing a complete game, but South Carolina obviously does too. My biggest worry with South Carolina is their inability to score from deep, with just 17% of their points coming from beyond-the-arc (332nd). If I’m thinking “clutch,” Stanford is who comes to mind first. So while I’m taking the Red Birds to advance to the championship, I expect it to be a one-possession game.
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Ryan Coleman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Ryan, check out his archive.