Gamecocks Ready for First NCAA Tournament in 13 Years
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — South Carolina (22-10) earned a No. 7 seed in its ninth berth to the NCAA Tournament and will face 10th-seeded Marquette (19-12) in the First Round in Greenville, S.C. on Friday, March 17. The Gamecocks will be playing in the East Regional and with a victory, would face the winner of second-seeded Duke (27-8) vs. 15th-seeded Troy (22-14) on Sunday.
South Carolina’s selection to the 2017 NCAA Tournament field marks the Gamecocks’ ninth trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament and the first since 2004. Carolina holds an all-time record of 4-9 in NCAA Tournament games, with its last win coming in the 1973 East Regional Consolation versus Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana Lafayette). Carolina’s first-ever win in the Tournament came in a 53-51 win over Temple in 1972, when Gamecock great Kevin Joyce hit a last-second jumper to propel the Gamecocks past the Owls into the Sweet 16.
Below are a few notables about South Carolina’s NCAA Tournament history:
– The Gamecocks have advanced to the NCAA Tournament nine times (including 2017): 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989, 1997, 1998, 2004 and 2017
– South Carolina’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win came in a 53-51 victory over Temple on March 11, 1972, in Williamsburg, Va., in the NCAA First Round
– Tom Riker (1970-72) owns the Carolina record for most points scored in a tournament game with 39 vs. Fordham on March 20, 1971, in Raleigh. He made 18-of-26 attempts from the floor in that contest
– Melvin Watson dished a Gamecock NCAA Tournament record 10 assists vs. Richmond on March 12, 1998, in Washington, D.C.
– South Carolina all-time vs. NCAA opponents: Coppin State (0-1), Fordham (0-1), Furman (0-1), Memphis (0-2), North Carolina (0-1), N.C. State (0-1), Pennsylvania (0-1), Richmond, (0-1), Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana Lafayette) (1-0), Temple (1-0), Texas Tech (1-0), Villanova (1-0)
GAMECOCK QUICK HITS
– South Carolina is in its 109th season of varsity basketball in 2016-17.
– On the sidelines, Frank Martin is joined by associate head coach Matt Figger, assistant coaches Perry Clark and Bruce Shingler, and director of operations Andy Assaley.
– South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is 6-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games, with all of those contests coming while he was the head coach at Kansas State. Martin led his 2009-10 squad to an Elite Eight appearance, while each season that Martin’s team advanced to the NCAA Tournament it won at least one game.
– With the Gamecocks selection to the NCAA Tournament this season it marks the first time that South Carolina has had back-to-back postseason bids (NIT in 2016) since Carolina advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and then the NIT in 2005 and 2006.
– South Carolina is 1-2 in neutral site contests this season, as the Gamecocks upset then-No. 18/16 Syracuse at the Barclays Center on Nov. 26, before suffering a three-point loss to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 12 and a loss on March 10 to Alabama in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals in Nashville.
– Over the course of the last two seasons, Carolina is 5-3 in neutral site games.
– Sindarius Guard Sindarius Thornwell pulled in several awards last week for his outstanding season on the court. He was named the SEC Player of the Year, as well as garnering All-SEC First Team and All-Defensive Team accolades from the league coaches. He was named a unanimous selection to the AP All-SEC First Team and he earned USBWA All-District III (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland) honors.
– South Carolina captured its 20th win of the season on Feb. 11 in Starkville over Mississippi State. It marked the first time the Gamecocks have had back-to-back 20-wins seasons (25-9 during 2015-16 campaign) since the 2003-04 (23-11), the 2004-05 (20-13) and the 2005-06 (23-15) seasons when the Gamecocks posted three-straight 20-win campaigns.
– Marquette is making its 32nd NCAA Tournament appearance
– The Golden Eagles have played in 16 Sweet Sixteens and advanced to the Final Four three times (1974, 1977, 2003), winning a National Title under legendary head coach Al McGuire in 1977
– Head coach Steve Wojciechowski is in his third season at the helm after serving as an assistant at Duke for 14 seasons
– MU finished fourth in the Big East with a 10-8 record
– The Golden Eagles have a 3-3 record vs. common opponents with wins over Georgia, Vanderbilt and Seton Hall and losses to Michigan and Seton Hall (2)
– Marquette is the top-ranked 3-point shooting team in the country at 43 percent; they rank fifth in the country in made 3s per game at 10.5
– The Golden Eagles led the Big East in scoring and ranked 17th in the country, averaging 82.5 points per game
– Guard Markus Howard is the team’s leading scorer at 13.1 points per game; he was named to the Big East All-Freshman and ranks No. 1 in the country in 3-point percentage, making 54.9 percent of his shots behind the arc
– Guard Andrew Rowsey, who is the team’s third-leading scorer at 11.5 points per game, was named the Big East’s Sixth Man of the Year; his 93.3 percent free throw percentage is third in the country
– MU’s balanced offensive attack features five players that average double-figures and seven players who average 8-plus points per game
SERIES INFO: Marquette leads the all-time series 12-4 … The series dates back to the 1966-67 season … The team’s have met just once on a neutral court, which is also the last meeting between the two schools, as the Golden Eagles posted a 92-89 OT win in the championship game of the 2005 Great Alaska Shootout … Frank Martin has never face Marquette.
SEC COACHES POSTSEASON AWARDS
South Carolina senior guard Sindarius Thornwell was named the 2017 SEC Player of the Year, while he also garnered First Team All-SEC honors, as well as All-Defensive Team accolades from the league’s coaches. Thornwell’s distinction as the Player of the Year marks the first Gamecock to ever earn the honor. His First-Team honors mark the first All-SEC award of his career, while he was named to the All-Defensive team for the second straight season. Thornwell led the SEC in scoring in league games this season with 22.1 points per game, while he was sixth with 7.5 rebounds per league game and first with 2.4 steals. He posted 11 20-point games during league action, which included a 34-point outing at Kentucky, and an historic 44-point performance against Alabama. During his career in the Garnet and Black, Thornwell has earned SEC All-Freshman Team (2014), First Team All-SEC (2016), All-Defensive Team (2016, 2017) accolades and the 2017 SEC Player of the Year award.
BY THE NUMBERS
1.3 – Sophomore forward Chris Silva is averaging 1.3 blocks per game this season, which is a team high.
1.7 – PJ Dozier’s 1.7 steals per game is second on the team and ranks sixth in the SEC. Dozier has eight games this season with at least three steals, and collected a season high four steals vs. FIU and again vs. Alabama.
2.2 – Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell is averaging 2.2 steals per game this season, which leads the SEC and ranks 13th nationally.
2.4 – Thornwell’s 2.4 steals per game led the SEC in conference games this season. It marked the most steals per game in conference play by a Gamecock since Devan Downey averaged 2.5 per SEC game during the 2010 season. Additionally, it was the most seals per game in the SEC during league games since LSU’s Anthony Hickey averaged 2.8 during the 2013 league season.
2.982 – The Gamecocks excelled in the classroom during the fall semester, as the team posted a cumulative GPA of 2.982.
+3.9 – South Carolina leads the SEC and is 10th nationally with a turnover margin of +3.9.
6 – South Carolina committed just six turnovers in the win vs. A&M on Jan. 7, trying for the fewest in the Frank Martin era.
1,355 – Senior guard Duane Notice ranks 19th all-time at Carolina with 1,355 points. Notice is just six points away from surpassing Mike Doyle (1,360) for 18th all-time.
1,823 – Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell ranks fifth all-time at Carolina with 1,823 career points. Thornwell is 81 points away from passing Devan Downey (1,901) for fourth place all-time. Thornwell is just the fifth Gamecock to score at least 1,800 points during his career.
The winner of Friday’s first-round matchup between No. 7 seed South Carolina and No. 10 seed Marquette will advance to the second round to face the winner of the second-seeded Duke vs. No. 15 seed Troy contest. Sunday tip times will be announced following the conclusion of game action on Friday.