Texas A&M Aggies vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 28th 2024

No. 18 South Carolina’s place in the NCAA Tournament has seemed like a sure thing since the Gamecocks grabbed first place in the Southeastern Conference earlier this month.

Even after a 40-point loss at Auburn and a surprising home loss to LSU, the Gamecocks were still in good shape. And Saturday’s 72-59 road win over Ole Miss gave coach Lamont Paris the one thing any coach appreciates this late in the season.

“The coveted Quad 1 road victory,” he said.

South Carolina (22-5, 10-4 SEC) will try for another one of those Wednesday night in College Station, Texas, when it battles slumping Texas A&M (15-12, 6-8) in a crucial game for its conference regular-season title hopes.

The Gamecocks enter just a game behind co-leaders Tennessee and Alabama. They have a home game left with the No. 4 Volunteers on March 6, as well as a home date with No. 24 Florida on March 2 and a trip to Mississippi State to close the regular season.

If forward B.J. Mack shoots as well over the next four games as he did at Ole Miss, opponents are in a lot of trouble. The Wofford transfer hit three 3-pointers and scored a team-high 17 points in that win, upping his scoring average to a team-high 13.9 points per game.

Mack has scored at least 14 points in four straight games, connecting on 10 of 21 shots from beyond the arc.

“When he does that, it changes everything for us,” Paris said. “Our ultimate ceiling of this team is dependent directly upon what his outside shot looks like because it allows us the matchups we can manipulate.”

South Carolina also got good news with the return of guard Meechie Johnson to the lineup. He took an elbow to the head in the loss to LSU and wasn’t cleared to play until Thursday. Johnson is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.5 points per game.

As for the Aggies, the metrics love them more than the eye test. Their 86-51 loss Saturday at Tennessee was their fourth in a row, although they were still 58th in the NET rankings to begin this week. A good finish and a couple of wins in the SEC Tournament might mean an NCAA at-large bid.

Texas A&M has struggled to find continuity on offense this season, and its defense hasn’t been able to make up for it lately. The Aggies have given up 84.5 points per game during the losing skid, including 100 at Alabama, where it allowed 18 3-pointers.

Tennessee shot 52.4 percent and tallied 23 assists on 33 field goals, a mark of a defense that is failing to produce consistent ball pressure.

“We’re not looking for any excuses,” said guard Jace Carter, “we just have to go grab it.”

Wade Taylor leads the Aggies with 18.8 points per game but is making just 36.4 percent of his field goal attempts. Texas A&M ranked 352nd as of Tuesday in Division I in field-goal percentage at 39.3.

This is the only meeting of these teams this season.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping