South Carolina didn’t do themselves any favors by losing to Alabama in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals yesterday. A win would have slotted them against Kentucky in today’s semifinals, and even if they were to fall in that game, it would hardly have qualified as a bad loss by any stretch of the imagination.
Was the defeat to the Tide enough to knock the Gamecocks out of NCAA Tournament status and onto the wrong side of the bubble? Here’s how the experts are calling it as we get closer to Selection Sunday.
ESPN: Joe Lunardi’s latest projections see the Gamecocks in the Midwest region as a seven seed opening up against Providence. They’re paired with second-seeded Arizona and Big Sky autobid and 15 seed North Dakota in the Salt Lake City subregional.
CBS Sports: Jerry Palm also slots the Gamecocks in the Midwest region but as an nine seed, opening against eight seed Northwestern - projected to play in their first ever NCAA Tournament as an at-large team out of the Big Ten. Top-seeded Kansas and Summit League champ South Dakota State/Southland autobid winner New Orleans make up the second half of the pairing.
FOX Sports: Stewart Mandel also has South Carolina in the Midwest as a nine seed, starting off against eighth-seeded Marquette in Tulsa. They would be paired with top-seed Kansas and the winner of the First Four matchup between North Dakota and SWAC champ Texas Southern.
SBN: Chris Dobbertean has the Gamecocks in the West region as a 10 seed, but like Palm, he projects their first-round opponent as Northwestern. Second-seeded Oregon and Texas Southern are the other two teams in the pairing.
USA Today: Shelby Mast also puts the Gamecocks in the West region, but as a nine seed facing off against Big East at-large team and eighth-seeded Marquette. He projects Oregon as a top seed playing North Dakota in the second half of the pairing.
College Basketball Talk/NBC: Dave Ommen’s projection lines up with Dobbertean and Mast’s in putting the Gamecocks in the West region, but he has them as an eight seed up against ninth-seeded Seton Hall(!). The Gamecocks fell to the Pirates 67-64 at Madison Square Garden on December 12. Top-seed Gonzaga and North Dakota complete the pairing.
Bracket Matrix: The Bracket Matrix is a composite of just about every bracketology prediction on the Web. They average the Gamecocks out to a 7.66, with every projection on their list putting South Carolina in the tournament.