South Carolina basketball lost badly to the Alabama Crimson Tide earlier this week, but the Gamecocks have put together a good enough resume to keep them in the NCAA Tournament conversation.
The 13-2 (1-1) Gamecocks have been one of the most improved teams in all of college basketball, a testament to the work 2nd-year coach Lamont Paris has put in to change the offensive and defensive philosophies of the program and the work the he did this offseason in the transfer portal.
The improvements in Columbia have made national college basketball analysts take notice, and USC has been in most NCAA Tournament projections over the last month.
On Friday, CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein released his updated bracketology, and the Gamecocks made the field even after their loss to Alabama. Based on the ordering of Rothstein's list, it appears that South Carolina basketball is the final SEC team in his March Madness projections.
The Gamecocks will look to bounce back this weekend against Missouri in the "other Columbia." USC will need to finish with a .500 record or better in conference play to have a realistic hope of making the NCAA Tournament.
With good wins over Virginia Tech, Grand Canyon, George Washington, and Mississippi State, picking up another 8 wins in conference play should make a good enough resume for the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Of course, winning even more than that (including a game or two in the SEC Tournament) wouldn't hurt the cause, either.
South Carolina basketball fans will base their confidence in going to the Big Dance on the next few games. Picking up wins @Missouri and against Georgia in Colonial Life Arena would be pick stepping stones to getting there. Going 3-1 against an SEC opening slate of Mississippi State, @Alabama, @Missouri, and Georgia is nothing to sneeze at, and it would set the Gamecocks up for a manageable run through the SEC schedule.