South Carolina Basketball: 5 March Madness storylines to watch for the Gamecocks

There will be a lot of storylines that South Carolina basketball fans will be watching during this NCAA Tournament.

South Carolina basketball guard Meechie Johnson
South Carolina basketball guard Meechie Johnson / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball's 5 March Madness Storylines
The Jekkyl and Hyde act of BJ Mack and Meechie Johnson

Freshman Collin Murray-Boyles has emerged as the best overall player on this year's South Carolina basketball team, but veterans BJ Mack and Meechie Johnson are the players who must step up as scorers in this tournament if the Gamecocks are to make a run.

Both Mack and Johnson are capable of 20+ point explosions. They are also both capable of throwing up an inefficient dud of a game in which they score 6 points on 11 shot attempts.

Mack has scored at least 20 points 5 times this season, and Johnson has done so on 9 occasions. The only game in which both of them scored 20 came against George Washington, and it is no coincidence that the Gamecocks beat the Revolutionaries by 22 points that night.

Simply put, in order to score enough points in the NCAA Tournament to have any chance at going on a run, South Carolina needs its senior scorers to play well. As the owners of the two highest points-per-game averages on the team, Mack and Johnson need to knock down their open shots (they also lead the team in 3-point attempts per contest) and play well near the basket.

Coach Paris and the Gamecocks don't necessarily need either player to take over the game (though, they are capable), but the combined efforts of #2 and #5 must be a net positive for the team on a relatively high volume. Steady contributions from Mack and Johnson will lead to open opportunities for the Gamecocks' other scorers like Ta'Lon Cooper, Collin Murray-Boyles, and Myles Stute.

USC will need Mack and Johnson to perform on defense, as well. Johnson is much improved as a defender this season, but he will have his hands full trying to slow down Jermaine Couisnard and Jackson Shelstad on the perimeter. BJ Mack has struggled at times defensively, but the Gamecocks need their big man to do his best when matched up against 6'11" N'Faly Dante who leads the Ducks in scoring, rebounding, steals, and blocked shots.