An 8-0 start, a rough February, a middle-of-the-pack SEC finish. That’s how one popular college basketball analyst has plotted out South Carolina’s 2017-18 season.
Ken Pomeroy annually crunches numbers to come up with rankings, data sheets and game predictions. His blog – kenpom.com – is a haven for hoops junkies. It’s also in consideration to help future NCAA Tournament committees find the most deserving at-large teams for its field of 68.
Pomeroy on Sunday released his preseason national and conference rankings. He also used his detailed formula – which, among other things, measures offensive and defensive efficiency -- to find wins and losses for each of the 351 Division I teams.
USC, according to Pomeroy, will go 17-12 overall this regular season and finish 8-10 in the SEC, good for eighth place in the 14-team league.
The Gamecocks, coming off a Final Four run, were pegged to finish 11th in the SEC last week during the league’s media day in Nashville.
Overall, Pomeroy has South Carolina with a No. 48 national ranking. (It finished with a KenPom No. 24 ranking last season.)
Some highlights in the report:
▪ Kentucky is picked to win the SEC, followed by Florida, Texas A&M, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn, USC, Mississippi, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Georgia, Missouri and LSU.
▪ The Gamecocks are picked to start 8-0 for a third consecutive season. The projection only includes one game in the Puerto Rico Tip-off, a 71-66 win over Illinois State. Of course, should USC beat the Redbirds, it’ll then face the winner of Boise State-UTEP on Nov. 17. A championship game is scheduled for Nov. 19.
▪ In perhaps South Carolina’s two most marquee home games, the projection has the Gamecocks beating Missouri, led by potential No. 1 draft pick Michael Porter Jr., by nine points on Jan. 3 and losing to Kentucky by six points on Jan. 16.
▪ KenPom’s South Carolina-Clemson projection for the Dec. 19 game in Littlejohn Coliseum: Tigers 73, Gamecocks 69
▪ February could be daunting. The projection has USC entering the month at 14-6, but ending it 17-11. This includes a four-game losing streak to Texas A&M, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee.
▪ USC is projected to have the nation’s 17th most efficient defense. It finished third in that KenPom category last season.
▪ USC is projected to score 71 points per game and give up 69. The Gamecocks, under Frank Martin for five seasons, have averaged 70 points and have given up 67 points per game.