South Carolina Selected to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament
March Madness Hits Columbia as Gamecocks Face Memphis in First Round Action in Kansas City
The South Carolina men's basketball team has been invited to the Big Dance as March Madness has hit Columbia for the first time since 1998. The Gamecocks, 23-10 on the year, are a #10 seed and will take on the #7 seed Memphis Tigers (21-7) in a first round NCAA Tournament matchup in Kansas City, Missouri on Friday, March 19. Game time is yet to be determined.
This marks South Carolina's eighth appearance at the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The Gamecocks are 5-7 in tournament games and will be looking for their first tournament victory since 1973. The series history shows that USC is 5-17 vs. Memphis and 0-1 vs. the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament, having dropped a 90-76 decision at the 1973 Midwest Regional Semifinals in Houston, Texas.
Ticket information for the Kansas City tournament will be available at 9 a.m. Monday. Fans should check the USC web site (www.uscsports.com) or call the ticket office at 803-777-4274 or 800-4SC-FANS. Tickets are $50 per session. USC will receive an initial allotment of 350 tickets.
Other first round games in Kansas City include #2 Oklahoma State vs. #15 Eastern Michigan. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Carolina-Memphis game on Sunday. #4 Kansas meets #13 Illinois-Chicago and #5 Providence will play #12 Pacific in other first round action.
The Gamecock squad had a "watch party" at Coach Dave Odom's house Sunday afternoon. When South Carolina's name came up on the screen, there was a feeling of celebration among the team, as this marks the first NCAA tournament appearance for any of them.
"I got a feeling like I'd never had before," said senior Kerbrell Brown. "We want to show the University that we're proud to be Gamecocks."
Senior point guard Mike Boynton, who was selected to the SEC All-Tournament team on Sunday, said it was like a dream come true. "Finally. That's the best word I can use to describe this," said Boynton. "This is something that I have dreamed about since I first started playing basketball when I was seven years old. The hard work that we put in during the offseason has finally paid off. When our name came up, I exhaled, stood up and started clapping. I'm very thankful for this and I look forward to this opportunity." Coach Odom will be taking his ninth team to the NCAA Tournament and his first team since he's been at South Carolina. While he was the head coach at Wake Forest, Coach Odom led the Demon Deacons to the Big Dance on eight different occasions, twice advancing to the Sweet 16 and once to the Elite Eight.
"I told this team when we came back from the SEC Tournament last year, that this would never happen again," said Odom, the 2004 SEC Coach of the Year. "We do not want to conclude our season ever again without postseason.
"The challenge is now with ourselves," Odom continued. No player on this team has ever been to the NCAA Tournament. I told them that if you go to the tournament to be seen or just to see, the time there will pass you by like the blink of an eye. They won't even know you were there. We must put everything we possibly can into the first game against Memphis."
Coach Odom said he wasn't that familiar yet with the Tigers, but knew that they had an excellent team and had enjoyed an outstanding season thus far.
"Memphis is playing extremely well right now, I can tell you that much," said Odom. "I've known John Calipari since he was this tall. He used to come to our Five Star Camps and then he's gone on to become an outstanding coach. He may be the finest offensive coach in the game. This is quite a challenge we have ahead of us, but it's a challenge that we look forward to taking on."
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