SEC Basketball: South Carolina Gamecocks Preview, 2014 NCAA Tournament Chances

By Taylor Sturm
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks will enter conference play with a 7-6 record and despite exceeding expectations, they will be disappointed. The Gamecocks failed to close out an early upset over the now No. 9 Baylor Bears and lost a few bad games to teams like the USC Upstate Spartans and the Manhattan Jaspers.

Now, the 2014 NCAA Tournament is out of reach for Frank Martin’s squad barring a miracle, but that doesn’t mean that South Carolina won’t be capable of shaking things up in the SEC.

South Carolina is a matchup nightmare, and their young talent isn’t even playing that well. The Gamecocks are led by some strong veteran talent in Brenton Williams and Tyrone Johnson, whose experience will benefit the rest of this young South Carolina team. Freshmen Duane Notice, Sindarius Thornwell and Demetrius Henry are all three- or four-year SEC players that you will be hearing about for a long time.

On top of the Gamecocks’ already talented squad, they will finally be getting back one of their top scorers from last season, Bruce Ellington. No, he’s not been suspended; he was busy catching the winning touchdown pass from Connor Shaw to defeat the Wisconsin Badgers in the Capital One Bowl. With Ellington back, South Carolina will finally have some of that depth they’ve been missing.

South Carolina opens up SEC play against the No. 12 Florida Gators, which should be an easy victory for the Gators. The Gamecocks are not a top team in the SEC, but they will be able to beat some mid-range SEC teams to knock them out of 2014 NCAA Tournament contention. Martin is doing a fantastic job recruiting, and the Gamecocks will be a competitor for a March Madness berth  in the SEC within three years.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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