For the first time since 2009, South Carolina is waiting and weighing a possible berth in a postseason tournament.
While the heralded NCAA Tournament is not a possibility, the historically prestigious National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and the still new College Basketball Invitational (CBI) are both in the fold.
The NIT selection show occurs tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU and the Gamecocks may have played themselves into the stepchild of the Big Dance. The Gamecocks advanced to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals for the second straight year and have won three of their last four, four of their last six. The only blemishes in the last 10 days were a four-point loss to No. 18 Arkansas and Friday night's loss to Georgia in the quarterfinals. South Carolina's resume also boasts a solid strength of schedule rating, No. 35 in the country, an RPI of 86, and four wins over teams in the top 50 of the RPI. They also have a win now over Ole Miss who has an RPI of 54. USC's own RPI of 86 is key for the NIT because they usually set a threshold of an RPI of at least 90 or better for their invited teams.
The CBI is South Carolina's other possible destination. The main difference between the CBI and the two well-known tournaments mentioned above is that the NCAA foots the bill for the other two while teams in the CBI have to pay their own way. The CBI was formed in 2008 and is a single-elimination tournament where the finals are a best-of-3 series.
Frank Martin has voiced his opinion of wanting to play beyond this weekend even if they don't get invited to participate in the NIT. Duane Notice and Tyrone Johnson also voiced their opinions on wanting to continue their seasons. Athletic Director Ray Tanner is weighing the pay-for-play CBI scenario but is hopeful for the NIT. "We are hopeful that maybe we get some conversation about the NIT," Tanner said after the loss to Georgia. "I did a little research on that today, and our RPI is in the vicinity. It might not be exactly where we need for it to be, but I felt, coming into this game, we were in that conversation."
The CBI extends its invitations after the NIT has chosen its participants and we'll likely hear about a CBI invite through word of mouth and social media rather than any kind of broadcast. It's safe to say that Carolina will end up in one of these two postseason tournaments and at the earliest, they could be on a floor again Tuesday or Wednesday for their first post-conference tournament trip since 2009.