South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks' place in NCAA Tournament picture

South Carolina basketball is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but where might they be seeded heading into March Madness?

South Carolina basketball freshman Collin Murray-Boyles
South Carolina basketball freshman Collin Murray-Boyles / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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For the first time since the 2016-2017 Final Four run, the South Carolina basketball team will be dancing this March.

The Gamecocks have locked up a spot in the NCAA Tournament over the past couple of weeks, and at 24-5, Lamont Paris' squad has a chance to win the SEC regular season championship and earn the #1-seed in the SEC Tournament next week.

Wednesday night's game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and Tennessee Volunteers will have 1st place in the league on the line with just one more game to go. With a win, UT will clinch the regular season title, while USC will move into a tie with the Vols for 1st place if they win (a 2-0 record will give them at least a share of the crown, as well).

Even with the special season for the Gamecocks, the experts aren't quite as high on South Carolina basketball as one might expect. The "metrics" don't love Lamont Paris' team because they play a slow pace and win a lot of close games. Because of that, they are not seeded as highly in most NCAA Tournament projections as their impressive record would suggest.

According to ESPN's Joe Lunardi, Carolina is a 6-seed right now. Several teams seeded ahead of the Gamecocks (namely, Washington State, Clemson, Kentucky, Duke, and BYU) do not have nearly as quality of a resume as South Carolina, but because of the NET rankings and the metrics that go into them, the Gamecocks are lower than they should be.

Andy Katz of NCAA.com has the CourtCocks sitting on the 5-line right now. That is a little better as a 5-seed should be the lowest deserved projection for the Gamecocks at this point in the season. With a loss or two down the stretch, that number could drop, but at 24-5 (12-4) in one of the top-2 conferences in college basketball, having them below a 4-seed seems strange.

For the Gamecocks, any doubt surrounding them should disappear if they beat the Volunteers again on Wednesday night. A potential regular season championship (likely needing a road win over Mississippi State, as well) would be the first for the program since 1996-1997. The Gamecocks were a 2-seed that season, and while it seems unlikely USC is placed that high in this year's edition of March Madness, a 3-seed or 4-seed would be likely.

South Carolina basketball will welcome the Tennessee Volunteers to Colonial Life Arena for a 7:00 PM EST tip. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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