A dominant run to their first Elite Eight in school history has put the South Carolina men’s basketball team in the national spotlight. After their upset over Duke to reach the Sweet 16 the national media heralded the Gamecocks this year’s “Cinderella.” Headlines like “The Shoe Fits” and “South Carolina Crashes The Ball” were all over the place. Even a lot of South Carolina students hadn’t really paid much attention to the basketball team until the Duke win. But for a core group of fans that followed this team religiously all year, this run is a ton of fun, but not a huge surprise.
The Gamecocks started the year off 9-0, including winning the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational. These early wins showed signs of how this team was built to win in the tournament. A lot of people lost faith in the Gamecocks when they struggled down the stretch, but those of us that watched all year knew this team had as high a ceiling as any team in the country.
The two biggest keys to winning in the tournament are tough defense and having a go to scorer down the stretch, and South Carolina has arguably the best of both of those left in the tournament. Their stifling defense has really garnered them national attention, holding Baylor to 50 points in their Sweet 16 matchup. In addition, Sindarius Thornwell is in the running for the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament. His play on both ends of the floor has finally gotten him the credit he deserves from the media.
So as the hours tick down to South Carolina’s first ever Elite 8 matchup where they are once again underdogs, the world will continue to think of the Gamecocks as a Cinderella, and that’s perfectly fine with us.