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South Carolina Gamecocks at Georgia Bulldogs Basketball Preview: Carolina Looks to Place Itself on NIT Bubble with Road Win over Dawgs

Tonight at 7:00 PM, the South Carolina Gamecocks will face off against the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, GA. Carolina will look to avenge a close home loss to UGA from earlier in the season. After breaking an ugly losing streak with a home win over the Mississippi Rebels earlier this week, can Carolina continue to win against a talented Georgia team? Let's take a closer look at the game.

Implications: Earlier this week, I talked about what Carolina needs to do to put itself in position for an NIT invite. Needless to say, a road win over a likely NCAA-tournament team would go a long way towards that end. However, I think this is the least winnable game on our remaining schedule (barring a rematch with UF, VU, or UK in the SECT), and I don't think it's a must-win situation for the NIT invite. That honor goes to UT, MSU, and whichever Western Division team we open the SECT against. That said, a win here isn't out of reach, and it would give us some breathing room as well as confidence heading into those matchups. For UGA, this game is also important. The Dawgs are currently on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and while they're likely to make the field, a home loss to an inferior opponent could do their chances a lot of damage.

What to Watch For: Last time Carolina faced the Dawgs, we managed to work our way back into what originally looked like a laugher by forcing UGA to turn the ball over in the second half. We enjoyed +8 TO and +9 FGA ratios. Usually, those kinds of numbers ensure a victory. However, the Gamecocks shot the ball so poorly, particularly in the first half, that they still lost. If Carolina can force TOs like that again while even shooting marginally well, we will have a chance in this game.

Continue reading after the jump.

Why Carolina Could Win: Carolina enjoys a little more rest coming into this game than UGA, who played a Thursday night televised matchup at Florida. Carolina also looks to get Lakeem Jackson back, which should help us defensively. Against a team that has oftentimes seemed prone to wilting late in games, more rest could make a difference.

Why Georgia Should Win: UGA is the better team, without a doubt. The Dawgs are favored by 10 and the game is in Athens, although it should be noted that Georgia has not been significantly better at home than away this season. Lastly, the Four Factors strongly favor Georgia:

Prediction: 6-point UGA victory.

Lastly, I'd encourage everyone to check out Kyle's preview at Dawg Sports. And don't forget to come by the Open Thread this evening.

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