Below you can find the current status of the South Carolina Gamecock men's basketball schedule, as of July 25, 2014. The schedule does not include all opponents and includes almost no dates at this point, due to a lack of public information on these topics. Once we learn more about what teams the Gamecocks play, we'll pass that information along here.
The NCAA allows teams to play either 29 regular season games, or 27 games plus one multi-team tournament (with up to four games), for a total of 31 games. USC participates in the Charleston Classic this year, so they'll be playing 31 games (3 games in the bracket, and one other game, much like they played Akron twice in "tournament" games this year).
The Gamecocks currently seem set to face a rather challenging non-conference slate. In November, South Carolina plays in a three-game tournament in Charleston, SC. At the moment, the field includes three other programs from major conferences - Miami (FL), Penn State, and Southern Cal - although none of those teams fielded particularly good squads last season. The field also includes Akron and Cornell, along with Drexel and Charlotte. With the right draw, this is a tournament the Gamecocks could win, although Miami likely enters the nominal favorite in a weak field. The Charleston Classic and Carolina have yet to announce when and where the fourth game will take place, but it seems likely Carolina will host Columbia, Charlotte, Drexel, or Akron.
Outside tournament play, Carolina's schedule has other challenges waiting. Oklahoma State, Clemson, and Baylor all come to Columbia next season, each of whom put together very competitive seasons last year (with the Big XII schools making the NCAAs, while Clemson made the semifinals of the NIT). The Gamecocks also face a tricky trip to West Virignia to play Marshall. The Gamecocks announced in May a trip to Brooklyn to face the Iowa State Cyclones on January 3, 2015, likely their last non-conference game before conference play begins in early January.
In other non-conference games, Carolina takes on weak sisters North Florida, UNC-Asheville, North Carolina A&T, and shockingly Division II Coker College out of Hartsville, SC. Carolina likely took this game on to avoid the RPI hit to their own schedule as well as the leagues by playing another weak non-conference game, given that only games against Division I schools count for purposes of RPI. Expect a slaughter.
In SEC play, the Gamecocks continue to face Georgia in a home-and-home series (for basketball purposes, they are permanent rivals), and add Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee as home-and-home opponents, a somewhat difficult draw, especially given the Hogs' improvement last season. With Tennessee in transition and Alabama losing Trevor Releford, the other match-ups could be worse, although they won't be nearly as favorable as a series against someone like Mississippi State.
In its other eight games, Carolina hosts Florida, Mississippi State, Missouri, and Texas A&M. The Gamecocks travel to play Vanderbilt, Auburn, LSU, and Ole Miss. This season marks the end of the 14-team SEC's first rotation through its new scheduling format. It will be interesting to see if changes are made before 2015-16.
South Carolina put together a much weaker schedule than last year's due to a number of small but important changes. First, instead of traveling to Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Clemson, they host each of those teams in out-of-conference action. Second, they take on a much weaker field in their multi-team tournament, replacing games against St. Mary's and Boise State (both bubble NCAA teams) with an eight-team group that peaks at NIT fodder. Lastly, instead of welcoming Manhattan and USC Upstate (both teams that finished in the top half of their conferences, with the Jaspers winning the MAAC), they only host very poor out-of-conference teams, though the schedule does include at least one potential trap with the trip to Huntsville to take on the Thundering Hurd.
With that said, the Gamecocks should look to win one of their three BCS home games, get out of the Charleston Classic with a 3-1 record, sweep their other home games, and split the neutral game against Iowa State and the away game against Marshall, which leaves them at 9-4 heading into conference play.
In the SEC, the turmoil in Knoxville and regression in Tuscaloosa under Anthony Grant (read more about these trends here) leave Carolina with a somewhat navigable set of head-to-head opponents, although Georgia, Kentucky, and Arkansas all look like potential NCAA teams. Let's say the Gamecocks get through those 10 games at 3-7, splitting three of the series and getting swept twice by Kentucky and another foe.
In the Colonial Life Arena, Carolina draws an excellent Florida team it will struggle to beat, but otherwise could easily win the rest of its SEC match-ups in Columbia - Missouri's transitioning under new management, and A&M and Mississippi State are two of the weaker teams in the conference. On the road, there's not a single sure-fire loss to be found against LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn or Vanderbilt, but there's no sure-fire wins either. Let's say Carolina goes 3-1 at home and 1-3 on the road for a 4-4 split, which leaves them at 7-11 in the SEC.
That record would send Carolina into the SEC Tournament at with the assurance of at least a .500 record (you can at worst finish the SEC Tournament with a record that puts you one game further under .500), which would be the first time the Gamecocks eclipsed that mark since Darrin Horn's first season in 2009. It's worth reflecting on that when you think the above scenarios are overly pessimistic - this is a program that still is considered one of the doormats of the SEC, and simply putting together a winning season would represent an accomplishment, given Carolina hasn't strung three of those together since the height of the Dave Odom era (from 2004-2006).
The full sketch of the schedule is set forth below, with the 2013-14 Ken Pomeroy ranking in a parenthetical next to each team. With all the games now announced, the only remaining question is how the SEC organizes the Gamecocks' 18-game conference slate.
|2014-15 South Carolina Gamecock Basketball Schedule|
|TBD||Alabama (92)||TBD||Alabama (92)|
|TBD||Arkansas (52)||TBD||Arkansas (52)|
|TBD||Georgia (72)||TBD||Georgia (72)|
|TBD||Kentucky (11)||TBD||Kentucky (11)|
|TBD||Tennessee (7)||TBD||Tennessee (7)|
|TBD||Florida (3)||TBD||Auburn (129)|
|TBD||Mississippi St. (208)||TBD||LSU (58)|
|TBD||Missouri (78)||TBD||Ole Miss (84)|
|TBD||Texas A&M (121)||TBD||Vanderbilt (112)|
|Home||Away / Neutral|
|Nov. 14, 2014||North Florida (257)||Dec. 1, 2014||Marshall (251)|
|Nov. 18, 2014||Baylor (25)||Jan. 3, 2015||Iowa St. (Brooklyn) (21)|
|Nov. 26, 2014||UNC-Asheville (212)|
|Dec. 6, 2014||Oklahoma St. (26)|
|Dec. 19, 2014||Clemson (50)|
|Dec. 21, 2014||Coker (NR)|
|Dec. 30, 2014||NC A&T (339)|
|Charleston Classic (Nov. 20, 21, and 23, plus one extra game)|
|Akron (141)||Charlotte (178)||Cornell (341)||Drexel (134)|
|Miami (69)||Penn St. (82)||S. Carolina (114)||Southern Cal (163)|