South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks snubbed again by AP poll

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris has a team that should be ranked right now, but for some reason, the AP voters don't agree.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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A strange new reality is settling into the brains of most Gamecock fans: South Carolina basketball is good.

Outside of a handful of years under Frank Martin (including a beautiful run to the Final Four in 2016-2017) and some underperforming Dave Odom teams that should have been Sweet 16 contenders, the last 25 years of South Carolina basketball has been full of mediocrity and worse-than-mediocrity.

USC has won 20+ games just 7 times in the last 26 seasons, and they've won double-digit games in the SEC just 5 times in that same span. The Gamecocks have made just two NCAA Tournaments in that time and have averaged a record that is about one game over .500.

But 2023-2024 is different for this iteration of the South Carolina basketball squad. After winning just 11 games last year (and tying the program record with 21 losses), the Gamecocks are 13-1 and started off SEC play with a nice win over Mississippi State. The team's only loss was a 5-pointer on the road against a ranked Clemson team.

But, for some reason, the AP poll voters have not bought into the Gamecocks yet.

When the January 8th edition of the AP poll came out, some were expecting USC to make its first appearance since the Final Four 7 years ago, but that did not happen. In fact, the Gamecocks would have been 35th if the rankings expanded past the top-25, meaning that there are 9 other teams between Carolina and an official AP ranking (including Grand Canyon, who South Carolina beat in Arizona).

The Gamecocks play in the SEC, though, so the voters won't be able to hold down Lamont Paris' team much longer if they keep winning. Carolina plays a gauntlet over the next month with five away games against Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas and home contests against undefeated Ole Miss, Kentucky, Missouri, and Georgia.

If the Gamecocks have a winning record in those 9 games, they are just about guaranteed a spot in the rankings and would be firmly inside the NCAA Tournament field with plenty of wiggle room. The back end of the SEC schedule isn't exactly easy, either, but based on how this team has played, there are plenty of wins available on the schedule.

The next game for South Carolina basketball is a road game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama against a Crimson Tide team that has piled up some losses with one of the nation's toughest schedules.

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