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NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 link dump: South Carolina is America’s darling

South Carolina has been the focus of a lot of national media coverage during their run

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South Carolina v Duke Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The South Carolina Gamecocks basketball team are inching closer and closer to history as their Sweet 16 match up with the Baylor Bears looms closer tonight.

It’s been a wild week for fans to take in, with the Gamecocks morphing into America’s team for 24 hours after upsetting the Duke Blue Devils, seeing Frank Martin make a Good Morning America appearance and simply watching South Carolina become a classic darling of the NCAA Tournament.

The win over Duke vaulted South Carolina into the media spotlight. The shine on Gamecock athletics hasn’t been this bright since ESPN led their six o’clock Sportscenter interviewing Jadeveon Clowney in 2013 about whether or not he would play his junior year.

Any why not? South Carolina is a great story. Whether you take the angle of Frank Martin totally reviving the program from ashes, Sindarius Thornwell snubbing the likes of Syracuse and Ohio State to stay in state and bring SC back to prominence or just the sheer joy people have taken from watching their run. It’s all there for the national media.

Ignoring the old stiffs who are still angry Madison Square Garden won’t host Villanova or Duke, we’ve found a collection of the best stories on the web highlighting the accomplishments of South Carolina’s dream season:

The Sweet 16 Teams That Are Worth Rooting For - Nick Martin, Deadspin

According to Deadspin South Carolina is one of the three teams still worth rooting for in the Sweet 16. Michigan is gone, Xavier took out Arizona Thursday night — so can South Carolina pull the lovable underdogs over .500? We’ll find out tonight.

“The Gamecocks should be No. 1 on just about everybody’s list for beating Duke, but since I personally believe that the Blue Devils are actually good and probably God’s favorite team (and since South Carolina fans still rock with the Southern Cross), they are bad. However, their play on the court and their 65-point second half that ultimately killed Coach K’s squad of misfit five-stars was more than enough proof that the Gamecocks are right where they should be.”

South Carolina is like Cinderella — if she came to NCAA ball with brass knuckles - Sally Jenkins, Washington Post

You know you’ve made it when famed Post columnist Sally Jenkins is giving you the time of day. Jenkins agrees South Carolina is the definitive Cindarella left in the tournament, and that they’ve got here scratching and clawing the whole way.

“South Carolina is the closest thing to a Cinderella left in the NCAA tournament, but that ball-gown of a word is too delicate for them. There’s no dreamers in this team, they’re all brawl and substance, beginning with their rage monster of a coach Frank Martin, who seems to burst out of his suit with that terrifying tripwire temper, and looks at any moment like he’s ready to get in a fight with a pool cue.”

Dear Gamecocks - Frank Martin, The Player’s Tribune

It’s long read, but just try to keep a dry eye reading this note to Gamecock fans from none other than Frank Martin himself. This 2300 word expose details the season the Gamecocks have had from the man who’s helped make it all possible.

“When people ask me to describe what this program was like when I first got here, I usually tell them one story. We have a beautiful arena that seats 18,000 people. The first regular-season game I coached at South Carolina … the stadium wasn’t even filled halfway. It was a ghost town. And I’m not talking about ancient history here. This was 2012.

In fact, it was so quiet that I could literally hear a gentleman have a conversation on his cellphone, word for word … from across the court … while the game was going on.”

Sindarius Thornwell destroyed Duke — and shook up the madness - Jason King, B/R Mag

The Bleacher Report Mag is one of the best spots on the internet to find in-depth sports features. Sin City himself had the privilege of being featured on the mag Thursday, which details Thornwell’s beginnings in Lancaster to where is his now.

“Sure enough, after Thornwell led Lancaster to its first regional championship as a freshman, schools such as Tennessee State, Clemson and South Carolina extended scholarship offers. More than 30 others followed suit by the end of his junior season. When he wasn't starring for Lancaster or on the AAU circuit, Thornwell was toughening up in pickup games against 30- and 40-year-old men on an outdoor court known as The Hilltop, right next to Distinguished Kuts barbershop.”

Sindarius Thornwell leads South Carolina in everything - Nicole Auerbach, USA Today

Thornwell’s national media attention has been pretty overwhelming, but what matters more is the attention he gets from opposing players and coaches. Baylor head coach Scott Drew specifically notes in this piece how good Thornwell is.

“Because, to put it simply, he does everything. And leads his team in everything. Points, rebounds, assists, steals … literally everything.

“He’s really unique. He leads their team in everything,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said prior to South Carolina upsetting the second-seeded Blue Devils, adding that Thornwell was “the best unheralded great player in the United States.”

Perhaps no longer.”