They might be stumbling into it, but the USC men’s basketball team is going to the Big Dance for the first time since 2004. The Gamecocks Sunday were named a #7 seed for the NCAA Tournament’s East Regional and will face Marquette Friday in Greenville at the Bons Secoure Arena.
The Gamecocks are 22-10 and coming off a quarterfinal round loss to Alabama in the SEC Tournament in Nashville. They have lost six of their last nine games yet the committee felt strongly enough about their overall body of work to reward them with a spot ninety minutes from Columbia.
Northwestern, which is making its first ever appearance in the tournament, will be the country’s darlings. But the Gamecocks should feel some fondness from the nation, too, since they haven’t won a tournament game (non-consolation) since 1973.
The Gamecocks are in the bracket opposite #2 seed Duke and Troy. The team emerging from that four team min-tournament moves on to the regional semi-finals in New York.
The rest of the Greenville lineup is from the South Regional and has #1 seed North Carolina against Texas Southern and # 8 seed Arkansas against Seton Hall.
Marquette finished third in the Big East and is 19-12. The Golden Eagles are coached by former Duke star point guard and assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski. They feature a four guard lineup led by Markus Howard who averages 13.1 points per game and are one of the nation’s best three point shooting teams making 43% of their attempts beyond the arc.
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