Predicting LSU-South Carolina – Who wins the SEC showdown?
Only one unbeaten staff in Division I faculty basketball can be left after this weekend. But will it’s No. 1 South Carolina or No. 3 LSU? The Gamecocks (24-0) and Tigers (23-0) meet Sunday (2 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App) at a sold-out Colonial Life Arena in South Carolina in one of the vital anticipated video games of the ladies’s basketball season. Both groups are 11-0 within the SEC.
The Gamecocks are the defending nationwide champions and are on a 30-game successful streak. They are coming off a victory over UConn final Sunday and a win Thursday towards Auburn.
LSU walked a tightrope final week with three shut wins, together with one in time beyond regulation. But the Tigers are nonetheless undefeated and search for their first victory towards the Gamecocks since 2012. LSU leads the collection 22-17, however South Carolina has gained the previous 13 in a row.
It’s an enormous particular person matchup, too, as South Carolina senior Aliyah Boston and LSU sophomore Angel Reese face off. Along with Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, they’re thought of the front-runners for the nationwide participant of the 12 months awards.
Reese has a double-double in each Tigers sport this season, with 23 in a row. That’s 4 behind Boston’s 27 straight, a file set final season for the longest double-double streak by an SEC participant. Boston has 76 double-doubles, third in SEC historical past behind former LSU star Sylvia Fowles’ 86 from 2004 to 2008.
South Carolina has gained or tied for the SEC regular-season championship six of the previous 9 seasons underneath coach Dawn Staley. LSU, which final gained the regular-season title in 2008, completed second within the SEC final 12 months in coach Kim Mulkey’s first season with the Tigers.
Sunday, one will emerge as the favourite for the 2023 SEC regular-season title. We break down the sport and predict the winner.
How will Boston and Reese match up? Will Reese hold her double-double streak intact?
Creme: The star is already shining brightly on Reese, however an enormous sport and a win on Sunday could be the second. This will even be her greatest problem. Given LSU’s weak nonconference schedule for the primary half of the season the expert 6-foot-3 Reese was simply essentially the most bodily imposing and gifted participant on the court docket. The SEC season was a step up in opponents’ dimension and energy, and taking part in Big Ten groups final season at Maryland meant Reese performed towards bodily groups. However, South Carolina, and specifically Boston, presents a totally completely different problem. Reese ought to nonetheless get her numbers, however they are going to be tougher to come back by. As is so usually the case with Boston, she would possibly give a bit of floor early, however by sport’s finish she tends to have the higher hand. I think she is going to put on down Reese in a lot the identical approach.
Voepel: Reese’s rebounding is likely one of the most spectacular issues we’ve seen this faculty season. It’s not simply her leaping skill, however the truth she will be able to powerfully snare rebounds one-handed and has such a nostril for the ball. The 6-foot-3 ahead is second in Division I and first amongst Power 5 gamers in rebounding at 15.8 per sport. So the double-double streak doubtless will proceed.
Boston actually hasn’t had that many big-time challenges this season just because few gamers are close to her caliber and he or she and the Gamecocks have dominated so lots of their video games. So she is more likely to relish this chance. As Charlie stated, the 6-foot-5 Boston is essentially the most relentless submit participant defensively within the nation. Reese won’t solely need to cope with Boston, however all of the defenders the Gamecocks can deliver, together with 6-7 Kamilla Cardoso.
What’s the only greatest key or X issue that can decide this matchup?
Creme: LSU must get manufacturing out of not less than two different gamers past Reese, and Alexis Morris have to be certainly one of them. The Tigers do not essentially want an enormous scoring night time from Morris; the aim is for her to regulate the sport when she has the ball, be environment friendly, lead the transition sport and get her teammates open photographs. South Carolina already manufactures further possessions with its offensive rebounding, so LSU — notably Morris and Kateri Poole — cannot flip over the ball and create much more alternatives for the Gamecocks. Raven Johnson performed properly towards UConn and has turn into a way more vital a part of the South Carolina assault, but when LSU does not win the purpose guard matchup, the trail to victory goes to be very troublesome.
Zia Cooke has her defender sliding with a candy crossover
Zia Cooke crosses the defender after which knocks down the jumper within the third quarter.
Voepel: Indeed, turnovers could possibly be very large on this sport. South Carolina has numerous methods to power them, after which actually take benefit. The Gamecocks are the deepest staff within the nation, and that goes to the best way Staley has constructed a championship favourite. There are South Carolina gamers who could possibly be greater particular person stars elsewhere, however slot in completely for his or her roles on a staff this good. That means opponents simply cannot afford many errors towards them, as a result of they will not be capable to overcome giving South Carolina too many probabilities for simpler factors.
“It’s probably the most frustrating thing in my coaching — unnecessary turnovers,” Mulkey stated. “You’ve got to be stronger with the ball in your hands, you’ve got to make good decisions and you can’t make soft passes.”
What did LSU see in Sunday’s South Carolina-UConn conflict that might assist topple the No. 1 Gamecocks this week?
Creme: UConn’s first-half defensive efficiency Sunday offered a blueprint for the most effective strategy to taking part in the Gamecocks: The Huskies crowded the paint and had been content material letting South Carolina’s guards shoot soar photographs. It labored — for some time. The Gamecocks shot 34.2% from the sector within the first half whereas limiting Boston’s touches (she was 0-for-5 from the sector within the first half).
However, the technique is not foolproof as a result of South Carolina is simply that good and may adapt. Even if Johnson, Brea Beal and Zia Cooke hold lacking, it is meaningless if Boston and Cardoso repeatedly seize these misses. Eventually, the dimensions and rebounding acumen of South Carolina wore down the smaller Huskies. Boston had 23 factors and eight rebounds after halftime and the Gamecocks completed with 25 second-chance factors. Nonetheless, the technique ought to stay the identical for the Tigers. Executing the sport plan for 40 minutes towards South Carolina’s relentlessness is the true problem.
Voepel: LSU is dealing with the same factor UConn did in that sport: For one of many uncommon instances this season, the Tigers are underdogs. UConn tried to faucet into that vitality and did fairly properly with it, though not sufficient to win.
Mulkey is making an attempt, to some extent, to mood expectations as a result of she is aware of how difficult South Carolina is.
“I don’t view it as a rivalry; no one’s on their level. They’re that good,” Mulkey stated of the matchup this 12 months.
Still, Mulkey is happy concerning the problem and is glad LSU is concerned in such a marquee sport.
What’s at stake from a Bracketology standpoint?
Morris speaks on LSU’s win vs. Aggies, subsequent matchup
Alexis Morris talks concerning the No. 3 Tigers’ efficiency within the 72-66 win towards Texas A&M and says they’re able to tackle No. 1 South Carolina.
Creme: This is LSU’s second. Any dialogue concerning the Tigers’ weak nonconference schedule goes away with a win over the most effective staff within the nation. LSU would not be a thriller, and a win Sunday would make the Tigers worthy of a No. 1 seed. Even efficiency in a loss would say lots.
If LSU competes towards South Carolina equally to the best way UConn did final Sunday, it additionally will reply the query of whether or not the Tigers are actually among the many nation’s elite. That, plus an unblemished run the remainder of the best way, or not less than till a possible SEC match closing rematch with the Gamecocks, and a few assist elsewhere — Stanford stumbling towards a troublesome schedule or UConn unable to revive its stage of play from just a few months in the past — could be sufficient for LSU to finish up a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday.
Which staff wins?
Voepel: Look to the Gamecocks to guard the home. South Carolina hasn’t misplaced at house since Dec. 3, 2020, towards NC State. It’s the one time the Gamecocks have fallen at Colonial Life Arena previously 4 seasons, counting this one. Saying they’re invincible there is likely to be a tad an excessive amount of, but it surely’s shut. Nobody has overwhelmed them anyplace this season, and that can proceed.
Creme: Sunday’s outcome means extra to LSU within the large image, however let’s not overlook this sport will primarily resolve the SEC title. That is foremost on the minds of the Gamecocks. With that a lot at stake and the backing of the gang in Columbia, South Carolina, needs to be the choose — and the margin can be double digits.