South Carolina basketball: 6 NCAA Tournament teams on SEC schedule

south carolina basketball

South Carolina Gamecocks forward Keyshawn Bryant (24) dunks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball is gearing up for its 10th season under the leadership of head coach Frank Martin. Last year was disappointing, but some offseason roster movement has Gamecock fans excited about the future. The team lost a handful of contributors following the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, but coach Martin and Co. attacked the transfer portal, bringing in a number of talented replacements. Also coming in will be a three-man recruiting class that includes two Top 150 prospects.

South Carolina’s out-of-conference schedule is almost set in stone, with the program announcing future matchups with Army, Alabama-Birmingham, Clemson, Florida State, Georgetown, and Rider. The Gamecocks will also take part in a multi-team tournament in Asheville alongside Minnesota, Western Kentucky, and a team to be named later.

Now, the program knows its conference foes, too. The league announced the in-season matchups for each SEC program, and it looks like the Gamecocks will face six conference rivals that made the NCAA Tournament in 2020.

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Missouri, and Tennessee all made the cut, with South Carolina playing the Volunteers twice. All six were part of last season’s NCAA Tournament field, with Alabama and Arkansas advancing to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, respectively.

Throw in Clemson, Florida State, and Georgetown, and that’s a total of 10 contests against last year’s March Madness field, meaning there will be a tough path to success in the 2021 season.

The Gamecocks, themselves, are looking to make it back to the Big Dance for the first time in four seasons. Since making that historic Final Four run in 2017, South Carolina has posted win totals of 17, 16, 18, and six. The coaching staff has brought in players with postseason experience to join the roster, most notably, James Reese from North Texas. Reese helped the Mean Green reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2020, taking down fourth-seeded Purdue in the process.

The team will start navigating through their tough slate this winter. Hopefully, the Gamecocks can turn things around and build some momentum moving into Martin’s second decade on the sidelines.