South Carolina vs Duke
When: 8:40 PM ET, Sunday, March 19, 2017
Where: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, SC
GREENVILLE – (Special Preview by The Sports Xchange) – Duke was considered one of the hottest teams in the nation entering the NCAA Tournament, while South Carolina slipped into the 68-team field despite a late-season swoon. The seventh-seeded Gamecocks came to life in a blowout first-round win, however, making for an intriguing matchup with the No. 2 seed Blue Devils in the second round of the East Region on Sunday in Greenville, S.C.
The Gamecocks were somewhat of an afterthought after losing five of their last seven leading up to the event, but they used a dominant second half to rout Marquette 93-73 on Friday for their first NCAA Tournament win since 1973. They also figure to have something of a home-court advantage playing at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, although the Blue Devils say they relish the thought of a hostile environment. “We like a game with noise,” Duke guard Grayson Allen told reporters. “That brings energy. We like playing in buildings where it’s loud. It gives everybody on the court energy.” The Blue Devils had little trouble in their opening game, pounding Troy 87-65 and picking up where they left off in last week’s run through the ACC tournament.
TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (23-10): The Gamecocks don’t possess the bevy of offensive stars that Duke has, but they might have the most dynamic player on the court in SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell (21.3 points, 7.3 rebounds). The senior went off for 29 points and 11 rebounds against Marquette while fellow guard PJ Dozier (13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds) scored 21. Guard Duane Notice (10.1 points) is the only other Gamecock who averages double digits in points, but the team counts on its defense to create offense and turned 18 turnovers by Marquette into 25 points.
ABOUT DUKE (28-8): Much of the Blue Devils’ inconsistency throughout the season was tied to injury woes, and they undoubtedly are among the nation’s most talented teams when healthy. Leading scorer Luke Kennard (19.8 points, 5.2 rebounds) managed just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting against Troy, yet the Blue Devils never were in danger thanks to 18 and 12 rebounds from freshman star Jayson Tatum (16.9 points, 7.5 rebounds) and 21 points off the bench from Allen (14.3, 3.5 assists). Amile Jefferson (10.8 points, 8.2 rebounds) also had a relatively quiet night Friday but could be a major factor against the Gamecocks.