Bracketology breakdown: Where USC basketball stands with March Madness a month away

One month away from Selection Sunday. That’s all that separates South Carolina men’s basketball and another chance at making program history: its first NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years.

While nothing is set in stone, the Gamecocks (21-3, 9-2 SEC) are inching closer toward their postseason fate. And they’re ranked No. 11 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 released Monday, up four spots from a week ago.

It’s time to start looking at the national picture. Where could USC end up in the NCAA first round? Who could the team face? Let’s take a look into the future and see what might be in store for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina’s NCAA Tournament projections

South Carolina is a consensus five-seed, reaching as high as No. 3 and as low as a No. 7 seed, according the 101 brackets averaged by Bracket Matrix. Other projected five seeds from Bracket Matrix include San Diego State, BYU and Kentucky.

According to CBS Sports’ bracketology breakdown, South Carolina is projected to travel to Brooklyn for the opening rounds of the tournament as a No. 3 seed — that’s up from a 5 seed in CBS’ previous forecast. The Gamecocks would play No. 14-seeded Morehead State in the opening round, in CBS’ projections, and match up with No. 6 Oklahoma against the winner of the No. 11-seeded play-in game.

CBS has South Carolina as part of the Midwest bracket with Purdue projected as the No. 1 seed. If USC won the Brooklyn regional, the Gamecocks would play the winner of the Omaha regional, where Kansas is projected as a No. 2 seed. CBS Sports updated its bracketology on Monday afternoon.

ESPN’s latest bracketology, updated Friday, lists South Carolina as a No. 5 seed in Spokane, Washington and facing McNeese State in the first round. The Gamecocks would play the winner of No. 4 seeded Iowa State and No. 13 seeded South Florida in the second round of ESPN’s projections. UConn is listed as the No. 1 seed in the East bracket. The closest regional sites this year to Columbia are Charlotte, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.

USC’s March Madness resume

South Carolina’s latest NET ranking is No 45. The NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) factors in strength of schedule and the quality of a team’s victories, among other things, and it’s a key metric the selection committee uses to determine the tournament field. Opponent quality is broken into four quadrants, with Quad 1 being the most coveted victory and Quads 3 and 4 being the kind of games a team doesn’t want to lose.

South Carolina is 3-2 in Quad 1 games with wins over Tennessee, Kentucky and Grand Canyon. They’re 5-0 against Quad 2 opponents, 4-1 in Quad 3 games and 8-0 in Quad 4 matchups. Despite going undefeated in Quad 4 games this season, the victories over Vanderbilt and George Washington pulled USC down in the the latest NET rankings update.

According to, which studies the NET rankings and teams’ wins by quadrant, South Carolina’s game at Auburn on Wednesday is considered a Quad 1 game that will have no major effect on USC’s NET ranking, but its game against LSU on Saturday could pull the NET rankings down.

The Gamecocks are projected to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016-17, when USC reached its first Final Four. South Carolina is 8-10 all-time at the tournament, with its first appearance coming in 1971 against Pennsylvania.

Head coach Lamont Paris is 0-1 all-time as a head coach in the NCAA tournament, after falling in the first road at Chattanooga during the 2021-22 season. He’s reached the national championship game during the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach at Wisconsin and Final Four during the 2013-14. He helped lead the Badgers to seven straight tournament appearances, from 2011-17, and made the Division II NCAA Final Four as an assistant at IUP in 2001-02.

Gamecocks’ schedule this week

South Carolina has a midweek matchup against Auburn on Wednesday night, and it will be the first time USC plays a ranked opponent as a ranked team this year. Auburn leads the series 30-19 all-time, including a 13-8 advantage from home.

The Gamecocks then return to Columbia and host LSU on Saturday afternoon. That matchup will be a Quad 3 game for USC, making it the sixth Quad 3 opponent faced this year. South Carolina holds a 20-18 advantage in the all-time series, going 9-9 at home.

The Gamecocks are on a seven-game winning streak, and Paris is the first second-year head coach to eclipse 21 wins in program history. The win streak is the longest active streak in the conference.

When is the men’s SEC tournament?

The SEC men’s basketball tournament is March 13-17 in Nashville, Tennessee. It will be a single-elimination bracket, with the top four teams receiving first- and second-round byes into the quarterfinals. The championship game will be on Sunday afternoon on ESPN.

When is Selection Sunday?

The March Madness Selection Sunday show is 6 p.m. March 17 and will be broadcast on CBS.

What are the NCAA Tournament dates?

The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be March 21-24. Game times for those rounds will be announced following Selection Sunday.