The Daily Gamecock

Preview: South Carolina men's, women's basketball teams looking to make deep runs in March Madness

The South Carolina men's and women's basketball teams are both competing in their respective NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 2017.

Both Gamecock squads during that season advanced to the Final Four, and the women's team went on to win its first-ever national title. 

The South Carolina basketball teams will be looking to replicate their regular season success in the postseason and reach the later rounds of the tournament again, but both teams have their own obstacles ahead in this year's tournaments.

Assuming the men's basketball team survives their first round matchup, it will likely be considered an underdog for most of the games following because of its stance as a No. 6 seed. The women's team, however, enters as a heavy favorite to win, putting a big target on its back.

The men’s team will open up as a No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region, and it will travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to take on No. 11 seed Oregon. The Ducks clinched the Pac-12 Tournament title, winning two games over teams who qualified for the tournament with at-large bids — No. 2 seed Arizona in the semifinals and No. 10 seed Colorado in the final — on its way to a conference championship. 

Oregon finished 23-11 on the season behind senior guard Jermaine Couisnard, who played his first three seasons of college basketball for South Carolina before transferring ahead of the 2022-23 season. 

Head men's basketball coach Lamont Paris said the team is preparing for Oregon the same way it has for all its opponents during the regular season. 

"We'll just go about business as usual,” Paris said. “It’ll be for higher stakes, it’ll be in the NCAA Tournament, there’s nothing we can do that’ll change that fact, but in our minds, we’ll try to prepare the same way that we have for every other game.” 

Should the Gamecocks advance to the round of 32, it would likely be matched up with No. 3 seed Creighton, who takes on No. 14 seed Akron in the opening round. The Blue Jays, who are favored to win, head into the tournament with a 23-9 overall season record and are led by senior guard Baylor Scheierman, who is averaging a team-high 18.4 points per game. 

The Midwest Region of the bracket is highlighted by No. 1 seed Purdue and No. 2 seed Tennessee, who each have semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy Men’s Player of the Year award. 

But the Gamecocks head into the tournament with star power of its own. Junior guard Meechie Johnson is the team's leading scorer, averaging 14.4 points per game, and freshman forward Collin Murray-Boyles is averaging 10.3 points and grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game. 

Johnson said the team also has not been a stranger to adversity, especially after it was projected to finish last in the SEC standings during the preseason. 

"Our motto is ‘earn it,'” Johnson said. “We got to this point by believing in ourselves, and we’ve earned everything that we’ve gotten, and now we here, and now it’s time to go show the world why we are who we are.” 


The women’s team enters the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed for the third season in a row after going a perfect 32-0 in the regular season and the SEC Tournament, capped by a 79-72 victory over LSU in the SEC Championship.

The Gamecocks will face the winner of No. 16 seeds Sacred Heart and Presbyterian, who will face off in a First Four match at Colonial Life Arena on Wednesday. 

The Gamecocks will also begin its tournament run without senior center Kamilla Cardoso due to a one-game suspension she received from her role in an altercation that occurred late in the SEC Tournament championship against LSU. Cardoso will be able to rejoin the team in the round of 32 and beyond.   

Junior guard Bree Hall said the team is aiming to bring its third national title back to Columbia. 

"Being undefeated and winning the natty is definitely the goal,” Hall said. “Honestly, the goal from last year is the same as this year. We’re just going to lock in and bear down and accomplish the goal that we have.” 

The Gamecocks could go on to play the winner of No. 8 seed North Carolina and No. 9 seed Michigan State if it wins against the Blue Hose or the Pioneers in the opening round.

After hosting the first two rounds in Columbia, the team could move on to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, which will take place at MVP Arena in Albany, New York.

Head women's basketball coach Dawn Staley said that advancing to each of those rounds will not be easy, especially with numerous close games late in the season, including during the SEC Tournament semifinals against Tennessee

She said that the team, even when it experiences rough patches, finds a way to achieve its desired result.

"It (was) an undefeated season, but there were plenty of defeats within our season,” Staley said. “We’ve felt defeat, but again, this team finds a way to execute, they find a way to hold each other accountable, they find a way to win basketball games.” 

The South Carolina men’s basketball team will begin its quest for a deep postseason run at 4 p.m. on Thursday, when it takes on No. 11 seed Oregon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

South Carolina's women’s basketball team will kick off its March Madness campaign at Colonial Life Arena at 2 p.m. on Friday against either No. 16 Sacred Heart or No. 16 Presbyterian.

The games for the men's and women's teams will be broadcast on TNT and ESPN, respectively. 


Trending Now

Send a Tip Get Our Email Editions