South Carolina basketball's position in March Madness picture after strong stretch

South Carolina basketball improved their NCAA Tournament standing with their big win over the Kentucky Wildcats, and the 5-2 start to SEC play has the Gamecocks in good position to go dancing.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris in his "undefeated quarter zip"
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris in his "undefeated quarter zip" / Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
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By now, the whole college basketball world has had a chance to digest South Carolina basketball's blowout win over the Kentucky Wildcats last week, but even with a road domination of Arkansas before the UK game and a home victory over Missouri following it, the Gamecocks did not crack the AP top-25 rankings.

Though they are not ranked, Lamont Paris' team has an improved position in the NCAA Tournament landscape. Big Dance prognostications from national outlets have USC firmly in the field of 68 teams that will vie for the National Championship in March and April.

ESPN's Joe Lunardi updated his bracketology on Tuesday, and in his view, the Gamecocks are in line for an 8-seed in the tourney. If Lunardi's projections hold, USC would matchup up with the TCU Horned Frogs with a likely date with the UConn Huskies on the line.

According to CBS' Jon Rothstein's latest bracketology (updated after the Kentucky win but before the Missouri victory), South Carolina basketball is firmly in the NCAA Tournament field.

The NET rankings have the Gamecocks slotted in at 50th in the country, a number that likely would not change much if USC falls on the road to Tennessee (3rd in the NET) in their next game but could skyrocket with a victory.

South Carolina has a really tough schedule (15th-hardest remaining schedule in the country) in arguably the deepest conference in the country this season, but if the Gamecocks can finish with a winning record in the league, the NCAA Tournament selection committee will have a tough time leaving them out of the Big Dance.

A winning record in SEC play would give USC, at worst, a 22-9 record, and leaving out a Gamecock squad who went 12-1 in the out-of-conference and then had a winning record against the gauntlet that is the SEC is not realistic. If Coach Paris' group can finish decently against the tough stretch, South Carolina basketball fans can look forward to March for a change.

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