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NCAA Tournament Preview: South Carolina vs. Florida State

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A familiar postseason foe stands in the way of a Sweet 16 berth.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 South Carolina (22-9) vs. No. 5 Florida State (24-8)

Start time: 2 p.m.

Location: Charlotte, N.C.

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 107.5 FM The Game

Live stream: watchespn.com

How they got here

The Gamecocks put away 12th-seeded Belmont 74-52, shaking off a sluggish first quarter to lock the Bruins down defensively and then exploded offensively in the second half. Four starters finished in double figures: Te’a Cooper led USC with 15 points, Alexis Jennings and Tyasha Harris had 12, and Doniyah Cliney added 10 on perfect 5-of-5 shooting.

The fifth-seeded Seminoles topped 13-seed Bucknell 70-67, unable to shake the stubborn Bison until a late three-point play helped keep them at arm’s length. Prior to the NCAA Tournament, Florida State enjoyed a solid run through the ACC, finishing sixth with a 10-6 mark in league play. The Seminoles notched notable wins over Iowa and N.C. State.

What to watch for

With Mikiah Herbet Harrigan and Bianca Cuevas-Moore back from their mysterious suspensions, it’ll be interesting to see how much more in sync the Gamecocks might be from the opening whistle.

As far as FSU is concerned, it’s one of the youngest teams in the NCAA Tournament field. Kiah Gillespie powers the engine, leading the way for the Seminoles with 16.2 points and nine rebounds per game. The ‘Noles are also a strong rebounding team, particularly on the offensive glass (37.6 percent), which helped keep them alive against Bucknell — FSU grabbed a staggering 44 boards total to the Bison’s 23.

Series history

The last time these teams met, it was in 2017’s Elite 8, when the Gamecocks moved on with a 71-64 victory en route to their first national title. Previously, South Carolina topped the Seminoles 80-74 in 2015 for the program’s first trip to the Final Four. The stakes have been high between these two, and the Sweet 16 awaits this year’s winner.

Region at a glance

As expected, top seed Baylor has cruised into the second round to set up a date with No. 8 California, which handled ninth-seeded North Carolina. No. 6 Kentucky and No. 3 N.C. State square off in what should be a battle, while 7-seed Missouri takes on No. 2 Iowa, which survived an opening-round scare from Mercer.