Western Kentucky vs. South Carolina Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Preview (Thursday, Dec. 22)

Western Kentucky vs. South Carolina Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Preview (Thursday, Dec. 22) article feature image

Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Western Kentucky center Jamarion Sharp.

  • Western Kentucky takes on South Carolina as the Hilltoppers are looking to rebound from a loss to Louisville.
  • The Gamecocks have performed poorly this season despite having high-impact freshman GG Jackson.
  • Brett Pund breaks down this matchup and provides his best bet.

Western Kentucky vs. South Carolina Odds

Thursday, Dec. 22
7 p.m. ET
SEC Network
Western Kentucky Odds
-115o / -105u
South Carolina Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

South Carolina welcomes Western Kentucky to Colonial Life Arena in an action-packed slate of college hoops on Thursday night.

The Gamecocks have struggled under new head coach Lamont Paris, entering the game at 5-6 on the season.

Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers have only a pair of losses, and they will be looking for a bounce-back performance after the defeat to in-state rival Louisville last week.

Any Conference USA school loves a chance to take down an SEC foe, and I think this is a great opportunity to back WKU.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Head coach Rick Stansbury will be making a return trip to Columbia, South Carolina, after 14 seasons in the SEC with Mississippi State.

In his seventh season on the Hill, Stansbury is still vying to get WKU into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since joining the school. However, it has qualified for the NIT twice.

The Hilltoppers have not picked up a solid win on the season due to such a soft nonconference schedule. Outside of a victory over Tulane, no other victory has come against a team ranked inside KenPom's top 100.

Stansbury’s squad also hasn’t played a single Quad 1 or Quad 2 opponent so far this campaign, which essentially rules out any hopes for a trip to the Big Dance without winning the conference tournament.

Two key players for the Hilltoppers are 7-foot-5 center Jamarion Sharp and junior guard Dayvion McKnight. Sharp leads the nation with 46 blocks, while McKnight leads the team with 15.4 points per game.

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South Carolina Gamecocks

It was always going to be tough to follow in the footsteps of Frank Martin after all of his success at South Carolina, but this debut season may be even more difficult than imagined for Paris.

There have been signs of promise, especially in victories over Clemson and Georgetown. However, there are also heavy defeats to Colorado State, Davidson and George Washington by an average of 25 points.

While there are issues in all areas, the main struggles have been on the offensive side of the floor, as the Gamecocks rank outside the top 280 in adjusted efficiency, effective field goal percentage, 2-point shooting and free throw percentage, according to BartTorvik.

The defense isn’t much better, with South Carolina entering this contest as one of the worst teams in the nation in eFG% and opponents’ 2-point and 3-point percentages.

Paris should be given time to turn this around and build his program, but this could be a very long first season under the new coach.

Western Kentucky vs. South Carolina Betting Pick

This Gamecocks squad has been perfect at home this season, but I do think this is the game where the unbeaten run ends.

So, my best bet is to take WKU on the spread (-2.5).

The Tops have had all week to mull over the disappointing loss to Louisville, and I’m expecting Stansbury to get a reaction following the defeat.

It also helps that this game will be played at a slow tempo that the Hilltoppers like. I just think the spread should be closer to -5 or -6.

If this is available at one of your sportsbooks, another play I would give out for this game would be for WKU to score the first basket at anything -175 or better.

Sharp, the 7-foot-5 center, starts for the Hilltoppers, and he will likely face a South Carolina big who checks in at 6-foot-9. Western Kentucky should get the first opportunity, and the Tops likely could get another chance by forcing a stop on a bad Gamecock offense.

This prop has cashed in nine of the 10 games for Stansbury’s team this season, but I’ll back WKU on the spread as my best bet.

Pick: Western Kentucky -2.5

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