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NCAA Tournament 2017: 7-seed South Carolina will open against 10-seed Marquette on Friday in Greenville

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The thirteen-year wait is finally over.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-South Carolina vs Alabama Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2004, the South Carolina Gamecocks are headed to the NCAA Tournament. They are a 7 seed in the East region and will open against the Marquette Golden Eagles on Friday at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville. Tipoff time is set for after the conclusion of the (2) Duke/(15) Troy game, which is scheduled to get underway at 7:20pm.

Despite losing six of their last nine after a 16-1 start to the 2016-17 season, the selection committee awarded Carolina one of 68 bids in the Big Dance. Their best win was a 57-53 win over Florida on January 18. Their non-conference win over Michigan on November 23 lost a little significance later in the season, but wins over nationally-ranked Wisconsin and Purdue, coupled with a solid Big Ten Tournament run culminating in a championship win against Wisconsin, raised the Wolverines’ RPI and benefited the Gamecocks down the stretch.

This is South Carolina’s ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament and their first in thirteen years. They played in their first tournament in 1971 in what would kick off a stretch of four straight appearances. After a 15-year absence, they would return under George Felton in 1989. The 1997 team would earn a two seed behind the efforts of Larry Davis, Melvin Watson and BJ McKie, with McKie leading the Gamecocks back a year later as a three seed. Dave Odom and the 2004 Gamecocks were a #10 seed in 2004. They are 4-9 lifetime in the NCAA Tournament.

Frank Martin hopes to carry on the same NCAA tournament success he had at Kansas State. In four trips to the Big Dance in his five seasons in Manhattan, the team never lost in the first round. His 2009-10 team made a run to the Elite Eight as a seven seed before falling to eleven seed and eventual national runner-up Butler 63-56.