South Carolina (4-0) hosts No.25 Michigan on Wednesday night and before heading to New York to play No.18 Syracuse on Saturday in Brooklyn, NY. This will be first time Frank Martin and the Gamecocks will play ranked opponents but it won't be the last.
After their first three games USC won comfortably but they are coming off a tough 70-69 overtime win over Monmouth giving them a much needed test before facing the Wolverines and The Orange.
Here a few things the Gamecocks will need to do if they want to put the college basketball world on notice in the first weeks of the season.
BIG MEN AVOID FOUL TROUBLE
It's imperative that the USC post players avoid foul trouble so they can stay on the floor and produce quality minutes.
Chris Silva had his first career double double in that overtime win over Monmouth with 10 points and 10 rebounds. But most significantly he played a season high 21 minutes. He could've played more if we didn't foul out either.
Maik Kotsar is shooting a blistering 13-16 from the field this year but he and Silva lead the team in fouls. If they can avoid the whistles and stay on the floor USC and control the tempo as Silva and Kotsar can help control the paint on both sides of the ball and crash the boards.
Michigan and Syracuse can shoot. John Beilein's Wolverines hit almost 10 threes per game (top 40 in the country) so that means rebounds can be had. The bigs and the smalls of USC will need to help crash the boards.
Those rebounds will allow USC to get out in transition and limit second chance opportunities for their opposition which will help if the game is close.
Turnovers are never good in the game of basketball but when going against these teams those turnovers can lead to points which turn into deficits that will be hard for USC to come back from. They haven't trailed by much this season in their first four games but the Wolverines and Orange can feast on Gamecock miscues and we haven't seen USC respond to double digit deficits just yet.
It'll be interesting to see if they can comeback on one of these teams but we'll have to wait and see how they respond. The mark of a good team is one that rarely gets in that position and that's the kind of team USC wants to be.
STARS PLAY LIKE STARS
It's no question that Sindarius Thornwell is the leader of the Gamecocks. He is averaging 20.8 ppg which is more than Michigan's returning leading scorer Zak Irvin (14.5ppg) or Kansas and Nebraska transfer Andrew White III (17.3 ppg) of Syracuse.
Sindarius has been consistent and USC will need that from him this week. Especially against Syracuse who have are holding opponents to 30% shooting which already fourth best in the country.
Look for sharp shooter Duane Notice to come alive as the season goes on. He leads the team with 23 three point attempts but is only hit 9 so far. Hopefully he can find his stroke this week in against Michigan and Syracuse who are effective defensively in Jim Boeheim's famous zone defenses.
PJ Dozier showed he has the clutch gene after hitting the game winner at the buzzer over Monmouth. He's also long and athletic point guard who can match up with Michigan and Syracuse's back court. It'll be tough for the sophomore out of Spring Valley but he has shown poise, hitting timely shots, establishing the flow of the offense and limiting his turnovers. USC will need that and a little more to be successful.
It's still early but If they can do these things and and more USC can prove that they can win against some of the best teams in the country which will boost their confidence as they enter SEC play and help their NCAA tournament hopes come March.