Michigan vs. South Carolina Preview

The Gamecocks aren't very deep, but they are talented. Michigan's ability to go nine or ten deep may be the difference in the contest since South Carolina can go no more than seven.

Leading the way for the Gamecocks this season was 6-6, 189-lb., Tarence Kinsey. After the senior guard nailed a three-pointer in the final seconds of last year's NIT final to give South Carolina the title, and he kept the positive momentum going in his last season. The Tampa, Florida native increased his scoring average from 8.9 ppg to 15.7, and provided the type of leadership that his team sorely needed.

"What has really blossomed for him has been his leadership ability," Odom said. "A year ago was Carlos Powell's team. One of the issues for our team was going to be the leader. There was a huge question there. I am not sure we did it early. When the pressure was on in January and February, he has held this team together. Tarence never wavered in his ability to lead in a positive fashion. He continued to believe in what the coaches wanted to do, he believed in his own ability and more importantly he continued to believe in his teammates. The way he practiced, the way he talked to them, the way he related to them. He really spoke louder than anything."

Tarence Kinsey
Complementing Kinsey all year in the backcourt mate was PG Tre Kelley. The 6-1, 183-lb. floor general averaged 12.3 points and 4.5 assists per game during the season. As important as he and Kinsey are to the Gamecocks' success, Amaker seemed just as concerned (if not more so) with their frontline.

"They are unique and different," said Amaker regarding South Carolina's post players. "Their front line guys can rebound it and lead the break. They are not necessarily looking for a guard. They are that skilled. They push the ball out. That allows their team speed is even quicker or faster. They are not thinking about getting it to a guard on an outlet, they are pushing it themselves. They are unique. They were spreading the floor and finishing and attacking. I am not sure we have faced a team like that before."
If South Carolina's victory over Louisville in the semifinals is any indicator, Amaker's concern is well placed. Junior forward Renaldo Balkman was all over the place, pacing the Gamecocks' effort with 23 points, eight 8 rebounds, and four blocks. Odom knows he'll need another big effort from his workhorse if his team is to come out victorious.

"The best thing about Renaldo Balkman is that he is unpredictable," Odom said. "That is also the worst thing. When you look at him, you wonder what his game is all about. You will have a hard time describing it. He runs, he jumps, and he seizes the moment. Then the worst of that is also true. If the stars not aligned, he sits with me. I will also tell you this, the night he sat with me, we weren't playing for the championship at Madison Square Garden. My guess is that he won't be there next to me, he will be out there on the court."

Michigan's best weapon against Balkman will be their depth. The Wolverines have a number of post players they can run at the 6-8, 208-pounder, and will likely try to force tempo to take further advantage of their superior depth. South Carolina, on the other hand, will probably be deliberate in trying to slow things down.

"I think we know how Michigan wants to play style wise, but can we stop them…I don't know," admitted Odom. "The way Michigan played Old Dominion will have no bearing on tomorrow night's game. In college basketball it is always about style and how styles contrast. I don't know about Old Dominion's style but I know ours. My guess is that it is going to be low scoring. We are not going to give up a lot of points. We are not giving up points, I will tell you that. Whether we score enough points to win, I don't know."

GoBlueWolverine's Prediction
Michigan 63
South Carolina 55