South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Pick & Prediction MARCH 14th 2024

No. 15-ranked South Carolina will begin its postseason slate when it tips off against Arkansas on Thursday afternoon in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville.

South Carolina (25-6) is the No. 5 seed in the tournament and is coming off four wins in its final five games of the regular season. Arkansas (16-16) is the No. 12 seed and advanced to the second round by outlasting No. 13 seed Vanderbilt for a 90-85 overtime win on Wednesday.

The winner between South Carolina and Arkansas will move on to face No. 4 seed Auburn in the quarterfinals on Friday.

It has been a resurgent season for South Carolina, which finished 11-21 only a season ago. The Gamecocks are well on their way to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016-17.

Despite its upswing, South Carolina carries a chip on its shoulder into the conference tournament.

Gamecocks guard Meechie Johnson said he and his teammates are determined to prove their regular-season success was not a fluke. He did not hesitate when asked about his motivation heading into the tournament.

“Still being doubted,” Johnson said. “People still not believing that (we) deserve to be where we’re at. They don’t know about us. We try and come out here every game, and you’ve got to make a statement.”

Johnson leads South Carolina with an average of 14.4 points per game to go with 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists this season. Teammates B.J. Mack (13.5 ppg) and Collin Murray-Boyles (10.3) also averaged double-digit scoring during the regular season.

Arkansas is led by Tramon Mark, who averages 16.7 points a game plus 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Khalif Battle was close behind with 14.6 points per game.

Battle helped the Razorbacks hold off Vanderbilt in the first round of the conference tournament Wednesday by scoring a team-high 24 points. He shot 5 of 12 from the field but made 13 of 14 free-throw attempts to help his team prevail.

Mark added 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Makhi Mitchell tallied 18 points off the bench.

Arkansas overcame a 14-point halftime deficit by outscoring Vanderbilt 51-37 in the second half. The Razorbacks outscored the Commodores 12-7 in overtime to secure the win.

“It was good for us,” Mark said. “Just us coming back, playing hard — I think that’s what started this off, playing hard. Being connected on defense and offense, it was good for us. It was able to let us survive another day.”

Teammate Trevon Brazile agreed. He posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

“Nobody wanted to go home,” he said.

South Carolina pulled away for a 77-64 win over Arkansas in the teams’ only meeting of the regular season, Jan. 20 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Mack led South Carolina with 18 points to go with nine rebounds in that matchup. The Gamecocks shot 50 percent (9 of 18) from 3-point range.

Mark scored 18 points to pace Arkansas in the first game against South Carolina. He was the only Razorbacks player to score in double digits.

–Field Level Media

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