Tennessee Volunteers vs South Carolina Preview, Odds, and Predictions

The Tennessee Volunteers will hit the road one final time to take on the 17th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.
South Carolina v Tennessee
South Carolina v Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

7:00 PM ET. 534. Wednesday, March 6. Tennessee vs South Carolina Basketball 2024. 24-5, 12-4. 23-6, 13-3. ESPN 2. 533.

The Tennessee Volunteers are one win away from securing its second regular season SEC Championship under Rick Barnes. The Vols are first in the SEC as they head to Columbia but will need a win over South Carolina to prevent the Gamecocks from hopping in the driver's seat.

Tennessee comes into the game as 5.5-point favorites on Fanduel with a conference championship on the line. The over/under sits at 139.5 total points, which is significantly lower than the totals against Auburn and Alabama.

This will be Tennessee's third straight game against a ranked opponent, and the Vols will look to continue their hot streak and go 3-0 during Tennessee's most challenging stretch of the season. The Vols lost their first matchup against South Carolina 63-59 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

That was a tough not offensively for the Vols, specifically from three, as they shot 5-for-21 on a night where a lot went wrong for Tennessee. Missed layups, free throws, and threes cost the Vols on the offensive end of the court that night.

The Gamecocks are on a three-game winning streak, with wins over Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Florida. If Tennessee wants to end its winning streak and secure the regular-season SEC Championship, it better continue its successful play in the paint on both ends of the court.

We saw the good and bad of Tennessee's play in the paint. The Vols struggled throughout the game due to foul trouble, which allowed Jahmai Mashack to step up and bring one of his best performances in a Tennessee uniform. It is going to be important for Tennessee to remain out of foul trouble, stay healthy and fresh, and continue to control the paint with their physical play down low.

South Carolina is not nearly the offensive powerhouse the Vols are now used to facing after getting wins over Auburn and Alabama last week. Barnes commented after the Vols' loss to the Gamecocks earlier this season that they aim to hold opponents under 69 points to win the game.

"(South Carolina) scored 63. Our goal is to keep our opponent under 69. We were not a very good offensive team."

Rick Barnes

Tennessee could hold the Gamecocks under that mark last time, but the offensive struggles failed the defensive performance. The Vols have to look to continue doing the little things right to keep the momentum going.

If Tennessee wants to win another SEC Championship or a national championship, the Vols need to dominate the paint. Jonas Aidoo and Tobe Awaka need to stay out of foul trouble while not shying away from playing physical offense and defense down low.

As we saw against Alabama, Tennessee struggled to score when it could not establish its paint play. The ball stayed around the perimeter, leading to Tennessee's guards forcing threes or taking bad shots.

While all eyes will be on Dalton Knecht, we know he doesn't have to have a 30-point game for Tennessee to win. Between Zakai Zeigler, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James, and Tennessee's big men, there are plenty of good scorers who can help the Vols on the offensive end of the court.

Excluding Knecht, Tennessee's highest scorer in the Vols' last matchup against SC was Vescovi, who scored 10 points. If this happens again, we could see a repeat of the first game, but I don't think that will be the case this time around.

Next. More Changes Are Expected to Come to College Football in 2024. More Changes Are Expected to Come to College Football in 2024. dark

The Vols are playing much better basketball and hitting their stride offensively. They have to continue dominating the paint and playing physically across the court to beat South Carolina and clinch the regular season SEC Championship.