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NCAA Tournament Preview: South Carolina vs. Belmont

March Madness cranks up for the Gamecocks this afternoon.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 South Carolina (21-9) vs. No. 13 Belmont (26-6)

Start time: 1:45 p.m.

Location: Charlotte, N.C.

TV: ESPN2

Live stream: watchespn.com

How they got here

Despite a brief and disappointing showing in the SEC Tournament, South Carolina nonetheless locked up a four-seed and the right to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Well, “host” — since Columbia is a regional site for the men’s tournament, the Gamecocks got some help from UNC Charlotte and will play their “home” games on that campus.

Hailing from the Ohio Valley Conference, Belmont is making its fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and still searching for its first win. The Bruins, coming off a fourth consecutive OVC Tournament title and third straight year of racking up at least 26 wins, are 0-1 in their only other game against an SEC team this season (an 84-76 loss to in-state foe Tennessee).

What to watch for

Belmont loves to do damage from long distance, as it ranks fourth nationally in made 3-pointers (334). Darby Maggard (19.4 points) and Ellie Harmeyer (18.4) are the OVC’s second- and third-leading scorers, respectively, and the senior Maggard is an All-America candidate who shoots 41 percent from 3.

Series history

The Gamecocks and Bruins have never faced off. Should South Carolina advance and No. 12 Bucknell beats fifth-seeded Florida State, that would be another first-time opponent for USC.

Region at a glance

Outside of the Charlotte pod (South Carolina, Florida State, Belmont, and Bucknell), Baylor is the top seed in the Greensboro Region, which also features No. 3 seed N.C. State, sixth-seeded Kentucky, and ninth-seeded North Carolina.