Thursday is World Basketball Day, and Dawn Staley's South Carolina basketball squad is in a familiar (and enviable) place this year. The Gamecocks are ranked #1 in the country after a dominant 11-0 start that includes blowouts over top-15 programs Notre Dame and Maryland, road victories against North Carolina and Duke, and four separate 69-point (or better) victories.
The Gamecocks are the early favorites to win the national title. If Staley and company were to become champions once again, and if they managed to pull it off, it will be the third USC championship since the 2016-2017 season. No other program has even won two titles in the same time frame.
Many college basketball fans might be surprised to realize that the UConn Huskies have not won a championships during that span. Geno Auriemma's dynasty is over, but UConn is still a top program in the country. In recent years, the Gamecocks have flipped what used to be a one-sided rivalry as Carolina has won 4 of the last 5 in the series, including the 2021-2022 National Championship Game.
The next installment of the rivalry will come in about a month and a half in Columbia.
According to a release from the University of South Carolina, Gamecock fans have caused the February 11th contest against UConn to sell out. The only tickets available are student tickets (which all surely will be claimed as soon as they are made available) and faculty/staff tickets.
Colonial Life Arena holds over 18,000 fans, so selling out the venue is difficult to do. However, the UConn game is the 10th sellout the Gamecocks have had, and there have been rumors that another game (perhaps the regular season finale against Tennessee?) could be closing in on a sellout, as well. Both the game against UConn and the one against Tennessee will be broadcast on ESPN.