Gamecocks Hoops Weekly Forecast: 3/1-3/7 (Part Two)

Time to get to the weekly previews. This week, the final of the regular season, we host the Tennessee Volunteers in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN and visit the Georgia Bulldogs to wrap things up. The Tennessee game, as anyone paying any attention knows, is as big a game as we've played around here in quite some time. At stake in the contest is the SEC Eastern Division lead and a likely move to "lock" status for the NCAAs. If we beat the Vols, UGA will also turn into a must-win game, as a win against UT followed by a loss to the Pups will result in a tie with the Vols for the Eastern Division lead if Tennessee beats Bama over the weekend. If that occurs and I'm not mistaken, Tennessee will win the tiebreaker by virtue of their superior divisional record. (The Vols have lost most of their conference losses to Western Division teams; I think their only divisional losses came to Kentucky, whereas we have lost to UT, Florida, and Vandy.) Knowing all of that, let's take a look at these upcoming games.

Tennessee

The Vols are an interesting matchup for us because they're a team that dares you to try to run with them, much as we do. They're also a team that seems to suffer when they're forced into a halfcourt game. So what are we, a team that lives off our full-court press and forced turnovers, to do in this situation? Our previous game against the Vols doesn't tell us much. In that game, we pressed in both halves. Unfortunately, we failed in the first half because we couldn't force turnovers or shoot the ball well. In the second half, we almost made a monumental comeback when we began to get those turnovers and easy baskets. In fact, we scored 51points in the second half--quite a feat. All of this being the case, I say that we try to play our usual fullcourt game against the Vols. It can work and, moreover, I don't like our chances if we just try to outshoot them. You just have to play smart against these guys, because they'll burn you if you don't.

When we get into the halfcourt game, we can maximize our scoring by crashing the offensive boards; we had some success here last time around. In halfcourt defense, the key will be to bring to limit Tennessee's post game. The Vols lack the Chris Lofton of yesteryear, but they do have some good forwards as well as a huge guard in uber-recruit Scotty Hopson, who has come along well of late. Hopson will be a brutal matchup on Zam Fredrick due to the size difference, so don't be surprised to see Hopson take it to Zam in the post.

Georgia

OK, OK. I know UGA isn't a good team and that we have no business losing to them. Why even worry? Well, the Pups have won a couple of games down the stretch, both in Athens. When we visit the Classic City, we don't want the same thing to happen to us.

The key to this game, as before, is to slow down Terrance Woodbury, who stuck a dagger in Florida's heart a couple of weeks ago with 32 points. This guy can shoot when he gets going, as he proved when he went 7-7 from three against the Gators. Past playing enough perimeter defense to shut this guy down, we need to take advantage when Georgia makes mistakes. Georgia is a team that we possess a decided athletic advantage over, and that will lead to plenty of turnovers; we had 24 against them last time. We need that kind of defense again.

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