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An In-Depth Look At The Gamecocks NCAA Tournament Chances With Just Eight Conference Games Remaining

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FEBRUARY 11, 2020  by MICHAEL MCKEE THEBIGSPUR.COM

An In-Depth Look At The Gamecocks NCAA Tournament Chances With Just Eight Conference Games Remaining

In what seems to be a February tradition for South Carolina men’s basketball, the Gamecocks find themselves fighting tooth and nail for a NCAA Tournament berth.

As of today, Carolina’s NET Ranking is 76.

In order to be a true bubble team, that ranking needs to be at 55 or better, which seems like a pretty long way to go for the Gamecocks, given their two Quad 4 losses to Boston and Stetson.

The Gamecocks have a 3-5 record against Quad 1 teams, with wins over Kentucky, at Arkansas, and at Virginia.

The Quad 1 losses that the Gamecocks have suffered were the games against Houston, Northern Iowa, Florida, at Tennessee, and at Auburn. 

In Quad 2, the Gamecocks’ lone win is at Clemson, with losses to Wichita State and at Ole Miss.

Currently, the Gamecocks have a perfect 5-0 record against Quad 3 teams.  

As this regular season draws to a close with eight games remaining, each game for Carolina is of the utmost importance if they are going to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.

In the remaining contests, Carolina has an opportunity for three Quad 1 wins (at Mississippi State, vs. LSU, and at Alabama) and two Quad 2 wins (at Georgia and vs. Mississippi State), with the remaining contests being Quad 3 games, except for the regular-season ending game against Vanderbilt in Nashville, which is the Gamecocks’ lone opportunity for a Quad 4 win remaining this season.

After analyzing Carolina’s remaining schedule, the Gamecocks need to finish the rest of the regular season at a minimum of 6-2 with no more Quad 3 or 4 losses to become a bubble team.

Finishing the regular season with a 20-11 (12-6 SEC) record would give Carolina a reasonable chance at the 4-seed in the SEC Tournament, securing a double-bye in Nashville.  

With 20 regular-season wins and a good showing (at least two wins) in the SEC Tournament, the Gamecocks’ ranking would move into the neighborhood of the top-50, which has seemingly been the magic number for Power Five teams since the NCAA moved to the NET rankings instead of the RPI.  

The next two weeks of games are huge for Carolina’s tournament chances, and anything worse than a record of 3-1 would put the nail in the coffin for their chances of an at-large bid.

Beginning with Wednesday’s game against Georgia in Athens, every game remaining on the schedule has to be viewed as a must-win.

Given the Gamecocks’ recent form, they can surely compete with every other team in the SEC, so a tournament berth is not impossible, although the losses to Boston and Stetson have left the margin for error razor thin for Frank Martin’s squad.  

Long story short, the Gamecocks have to keep winning and let the doubters and experts speak for themselv

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Question for the author... He claims near the end of the article that anything less than a 3-1 record over the next two weeks does our chances in.

We face two Q1 teams during that two-week stretch: vs. Miss. St. (in Starkville) and vs. LSU (at home).  If we win BOTH of those games, yet lose to TN and UGA, we end up 2-2 with two Q1 wins and 2 Q2 losses.  I'm not sure that balances out the way he states it.  The way I figure things (which, admittedly may not be the way the committee sees it), if we have the record I propose above (with the two wins and two losses) and we run the table the rest of the way in, we should still be a bubble team.  Remember... there's still a Q2 win potentially against Miss. St. when we face them at home AND a Q1 win vs. 'Bama as well.  Seems to me that if we trade 3 Q1 wins and 1 Q2 win for two Q2 losses, we come out ahead of things.  But perhaps my math is off somewhere.

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On 2/11/2020 at 4:27 PM, doublea1971 said:

Question for the author... He claims near the end of the article that anything less than a 3-1 record over the next two weeks does our chances in.

We face two Q1 teams during that two-week stretch: vs. Miss. St. (in Starkville) and vs. LSU (at home).  If we win BOTH of those games, yet lose to TN and UGA, we end up 2-2 with two Q1 wins and 2 Q2 losses.  I'm not sure that balances out the way he states it.  The way I figure things (which, admittedly may not be the way the committee sees it), if we have the record I propose above (with the two wins and two losses) and we run the table the rest of the way in, we should still be a bubble team.  Remember... there's still a Q2 win potentially against Miss. St. when we face them at home AND a Q1 win vs. 'Bama as well.  Seems to me that if we trade 3 Q1 wins and 1 Q2 win for two Q2 losses, we come out ahead of things.  But perhaps my math is off somewhere.

I think he was looking at the next 4 games at the time he wrote the article - at UGA, Tennessee, at Miss St., and LSU - and was probably assuming the one loss in the 3-1 results would be to LSU. He was saying that any 2nd loss to UGA, UTjr., or MSU would do in our chances. He's simply saying that beyond the loss to LSU, which is a solid team, any other loss to the other teams, added to who we've already lost to, would be a killer. That's just how I read that....

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In other SEC play tonight, 11th-ranked Auburn escaped in a tough battle with in-state rival Alabama in overtime, 95-91, and Florida routed Texas A&M 78-61. With those and our game, the SEC standings are as follows:

Standings     Team          SEC W-L      Overall W-L

1 Auburn 9-2 0.818 - 22-2 0.917 15 4-2 8-2 7 Wins
1 Kentucky 9-2 0.818 - 19-5 0.792 20 5-3 8-2 3 Wins
1 LSU 9-2 0.818 - 18-6 0.750 27 3-4 8-2 1 Win
4 Florida 7-4 0.636 2 15-9 0.625 44 3-6 5-5 1 Win
4 South Carolina 7-4 0.636 2 15-9 0.625 75 3-5 7-3 2 Wins
6 Mississippi State 6-5 0.545 3 15-9 0.625 48 1-6 6-4 1 Loss
6 Tennessee 6-5 0.545 3 14-10 0.583 62 2-6 5-5 1 Win
8 Alabama 5-6 0.455 4 13-11 0.542 40 1-6 5-5 1 Loss
8 Texas A&M 5-6 0.455 4 11-12 0.478 133 1-4 4-6 2 Losses
10 Arkansas 4-7 0.364 5 16-8 0.667 43 2-5 4-6 3 Losses
10 Ole Miss 4-7 0.364 5 13-11 0.542 81 1-8 4-6 3 Wins
12 Missouri 3-8 0.273 6 11-13 0.458 94 1-9 3-7 1 Loss
13 Georgia 2-9 0.182 7 11-12 0.478 89 1-8 2-8 3 Losses
14 Vanderbilt 1-10 0.091 8 9-15 0.375 154 1-7 1-9 2 Losses

The UGA game at home and the Vanderbilt game in Nashville seem to be the easiest - doubt either of those teams have much chance at post-season play this season, and they will be looking towards their off-season plans. Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Alabama are basically where we are, and like us still have some say in how their seasons end, but we are right there with them with 2 games (UTjr. & MSU) at home, and 2 (Alabama & MSU) on the road. The LSU game will be the toughest but is at home, so we will have a chance there...

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