9. South Carolina (13-2, 1-1)
The only time that South Carolina has been to the NCAA Tournament in the last fifteen years was when Sindarius Thornwell and company led the Gamecocks to a shocking Final Four run in 2017. That run almost feels surreal with how this program has struggled, though it hasn’t all been bad. Last year was Lamont Paris’s first running the program and his team won just 11 games, finishing near the bottom of the conference standings.
Things have been better this season in Columbia, though it’s not exactly come against the world’s strongest schedule. The Gamecocks won their first seven games, beating Virginia Tech and Grand Canyon, before falling in a close game at rival Clemson. Their only other loss came just a few days ago: a road blowout against Alabama. A few days earlier, the Gamecocks got their best win of the season with a home takedown of Mississippi State.
The question becomes what to expect from Meechie Johnson and company this season. This team has won all of the games they were supposed to win, something several teams in the SEC couldn’t accomplish. At the same time, the Gamecocks have had some poor shooting performances in recent weeks and looked completely outclassed by the Crimson Tide the last time on the court. The coming weeks will probably be a combination of good and bad and a middle-of-the-pack finish is the likeliest outcome.