After this weekend's loss to Mississippi State - a game they should have won - the South Carolina Gamecocks, as expected, took a hit in the NCAA tournament projections. The good news: they are still in the hunt. The bad news: they are in danger of playing themselves into a double-digit seed or, worse, completely out of the tournament. That makes beating Georgia at home and Arkansas in Fayetteville that much more critical.
ESPN's Joe Lunardi has dropped the Gamecocks from a seven seed on February 25 to a nine seed in today's projections. They are slotted in the South Region, where they would take on Big 12 at-large team Texas Tech. The teams would be paired with one-seed Virginia and sixteen-seeded North Florida, projected to win the Atlantic Sun's lone bid by virtue of winning the conference tournament.
The matchup with the Red Raiders could be much tougher than it appears, especially when you consider that compared to the relatively top-heavy SEC, the Big 12 has been incredibly balanced and could send up to seven teams to the tournament. Texas Tech is currently 18-10 (8-8 in conference) with wins over ranked Oklahoma, Baylor, and Iowa State. On the same token, their only "bad" losses are to Arkansas and Kansas State, with their other losses coming to teams like Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Utah.
Again, winning their last two and at least their conference quarterfinal matchup should put the Gamecocks in good shape and might get them up to around a seven seed. But, as we've noted, they've had plenty of opportunity to take care of business on their end and simply haven't done so. We'll see what the next couple of weeks have in store.