The Gamecocks are heading for just their 9th ever tournament appearance after one of the best regular seasons in recent memory. This is their first trip to the Big Dance since 2004. Look out, because this team will definitely trying to be making some noise this year.
Rebounding has been huge for the Gamecocks in their big wins this season. In their win against Florida, they grabbed 41 boards. In their win @ Tennessee they grabbed 38. In their win against ranked Michigan they grabbed 40. They rank 43 in Offensive rebounds per game and punish any team that doesn’t box them out with second chance points.
Sindarius Thornwell may be South Carolina’s greatest strength of all. The senior guard does it all for the Gamecocks averaging 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals every game. Despite missing a handful of non-conference games in the middle of the season, Thornwell has recorded five double doubles this season and is a versatile and experienced force to be reckoned with.
Three point shooting has been a struggle for South Carolina over the course of the season, and has reared its ugly head in some bad losses. The Gamecocks shot 11% in their loss @ Vanderbilt, 13% in their loss against Clemson at home, 16% in their home loss against Alabama 25% in their loss @ Kentucky. They rank 205th in team three point percentage. This could cost them in the tournament if they run across a tough interior defense or a strong zone (they also lost to Syracuse this year).
A general weakness for the Gamecocks is being in the SEC. The conference is extremely top heavy, and although they have reached a fairly solid 20+ win season, the Gamecocks have only played five ranked opponents and are 3-2 against ranked teams (two of their wins, Syracuse and Michigan, are no longer ranked). While they deserve to be in the tournament, not playing super competitive teams may hurt their chances in the long run.
Photo Credit: Gamecocksonline.com