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The South Carolina Gamecocks are dancing and so am I

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For the first time since I hit puberty, I get to watch the NCAA Tournament as a fan.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-South Carolina vs Alabama Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Holy Crap.

Heck of a lede right? As someone who pays his bills by putting events into words, I’m still struggling with how I’m feeling right now.

I’m not going to bore anyone with my unique fandom here, but if you’re curious it’s laid out pretty well in this piece I wrote a couple months ago. To make it simple, I grew up an Auburn fan and graduated from the University of South Carolina. So while football and baseball season was normally enjoyable — basketball season was pretty well irrelevant for many a winter in my adolescence.

My parents never followed the Auburn basketball program, and growing up in Houston it’s not like the Tigers were on TV every weekend — especially when considering live streaming wasn’t barely an idea in 2004.

I vaguely remember Auburn making a run to the sweet 16 in 2003 when I was merely 11 years old. I feel like that should be a more prominent memory, but I don’t even my parents getting that into it. Ever since Cliff Ellis left the program Auburn’s been in the basketball doldrums, waning my interest in ever being strident in following the team as I got older.

When I went to the University of South Carolina the Gamecocks were experiencing similar issues with their basketball team. Darrin Horn was the head coach and other than the upset of John Wall’s Kentucky team — there wasn’t much to be impressed about with Gamecock basketball when I was in college.

Needless to say for the past 13 years I’ve watched the NCAA Tournament merely for my own bracket’s sake. Outside of the team’s I’ve picked in a pool, I’ve never had a real rooting interest in one team.

Until now.

Finally -- for the first time ever really ever in my adult life — I’ve got something more to root for in March, as do all Gamecock fans. I totally get if you are apprehensive about this match up, and I know it doesn’t have anything to do with the Marquette Golden Eagles.

The last month and change have been sour to say the least for the Gamecocks. South Carolina is 3-6 in their last nine games and were one-and-done against a lower seeded team in the SEC tournament for the second year in a row.

It’s seen fans turn on the team in an ugly way and crept in the doubts of missing the tournament after being “La-La-Landed” last year via a misinformed text message. It deservedly scarred fans and made us all weary of what would happen Sunday.

For all of you out there who were angry, disappointed and depressed about the the Gamecocks down the stretch, take a not from Aaron Rodgers and R-E-L-A-X. We’re finally here.

Not only are we here, but the first game is in Greenville! It’s a practical home game in Clemson’s backyard in a seven-ten match up. I could not encourage every Gamecock fan enough to high-tail it to Greenville Friday and be apart of the fanfare that’ll be parading through the streets.

This couldn’t have turned out better for South Carolina fans. We get a home game and get a favorable match up against Marquette. Who cares about the last month and a half, who cares about the SEC tournament? South Carolina is dancing, be excited!

I’m so wrapped up in emotion right now I don’t care if Marquette beats South Carolina by 124 points. This is something all Gamecock fans have been waiting for since Lou Holtz was the head football coach. The Gamecocks are in the field of 68 and nothing else matters right now.

We can worry about the match ups and the X’s and O’s later. As for tonight, just revel in the fact you actually have a rooting interest in March Madness this year. Celebrate it now, bitch about whether or not the Gamecocks will lose later.