2017 Elite 8 Preview: Florida vs South Carolina

 

NEW YORK, NY – Much was said about how powerful the ACC and  Big 12 conferences were throughout the entire year. As the dust settles at Madison Square Garden, two SEC teams stand alone with a spot in the Final Four at stake. The Florida Gators take on the South Carolina Gamecocks at Madison Square Garden.

Year after year much respect is given to seemingly every conference except the SEC. Sure Kentucky is a mainstay in the conference, but with three teams from the SEC in the Elite 8 it may be time to give them their respect.

 

When asked about the disrespect of the SEC Kasey Hill stated, “It’s not just a football school anymore, I think it’s turned into becoming — or a football conference, so it’s turned into a basketball conference.”

The SEC is certainly not just a football conference anymore, it’s three teams left in the big dance showcase defense, hard-nosed coaching, and grit. These three traits and more will be on display Sunday

The Florida Gators advanced to the Elite 8 fresh off an absolute thriller of a game. When all looked lost, they fought back and hit a game winning three to win against the Wisconsin Badgers of the Big 10. The Gators leaned on their relentless defense to stifle the Badgers, and used resiliency when their backs were against the wall.

Chris “Cheese” Chiozza propelled his team off a phenomenal shot. When asked if he thought it was going to drop he said, “I wasn’t sure. It felt good coming out of my hands and I knew it had a chance to go in, but I didn’t know if it was for sure.”

The Gators will be up against a familiar foe in the Gamecocks. Both teams won one game against each other during the regular season. Florida lost the first game against the Gamecocks on the road, 57-53 but trounced the Gamecocks at home 81-66.

This time will be different though, the game will be held on a neutral floor with a chance to advance to the Final Four. This marks the first SEC meeting in the Elite 8 since 1986.

The Gamecocks cruised to a convincing win against the Baylor Bears of the Big 12. SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell scored early and often, answering momentum swings with his own counter punches to solidify the win for his team.

The matchup itself will be one that is almost like looking in the mirror. Both teams are stingy defensively, flying around the court making offenses uncomfortable.

When asked about the defense of Florida Frank Martin stated, “Very Similar. Very Similar. Different techniques, they switch a lot, they use an unbelievable size that they have to their advantage. They don’t get out and deny as aggressively as we do.”

That will be a big part of the game, noticing where both teams initiate their offense in the half court. If either team begins their offense 40 feet from the basket and doesn’t rebound, it could be tough sledding.

Kevaughn Allen of the Gators will look to build on his huge game last night, as he seems to have gotten over a slump he was in. Kasey Hill will also look to get out of a slump, failing to reach double digits in the last contest. Although he wasn’t much of a factor in the scoring column, his control of the game, control of tempo, and leadership shown brightest in big moments.

On the South Carolina front, they will look to lean on their bread and butter. Sindarius Thornwell will look to keep his momentum rolling by scoring the ball. Chris Silva will be leaned on to rebound and be that defensive presence in the paint for the Gamecocks.

The Elite 8 matchup tips off Sunday at 2:20pm Eastern with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

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