Making the Case: Why South Carolina Can Win It All

A look back at how the Gamecocks got to the brink of an SEC Championship.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Why not? Why can’t the Gamecocks continue one of the sport’s greatest NCAA tournament runs — and finish it off with the program’s first national championship? They’ve come this far with their do-everything senior guard Sindarius Thornwell — and by “do-everything,” it’s actually everything; he leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals — and a suffocating defense. Plus a passionate coach who calls himself a dreamer, with a dream that may not be finished just yet. They might as well win another two games and finish this thing off, right?

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It’ll take somewhat of a heroic effort to do so. South Carolina’s path to simply reaching the national championship game involves beating arguably the best team left standing: Gonzaga. The ‘Zags have the nation’s most efficient defense, per KenPom (South Carolina’s is No. 2), and have the type of balance and depth offensively that coaches salivate over. Nigel Williams-Goss is a stud, yet another player who has undergone the recent redshirt-to-All-American evolution Gonzaga has been known for as of late. Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins are more than a handful inside. If the Gamecocks get through Gonzaga, though, there’s no reason to think they can’t beat the winner of North Carolina-Oregon.

MAKING THE OTHER CASES

Gonzaga: Offensive efficiency can carry Bulldogs

North Carolina: Tar Heels driven by last year's disappointment

Oregon: Ducks are powered by tandem of Brooks and Dorsey


The more compelling matchup for a title game, in this scenario, would be an all-Carolina affair. Not only would this match up one of the most winningest programs in all of college basketball with a program with very little basketball tradition until this month, but there’s immeasurable and lasting bragging rights at stake in a border war to determine a national champion. How fun would that be?

Roy Williams vs. Frank Martin — a great coaching matchup rivaled only by their suit games. Thornwell, P.J. Dozier and co. vs. Justin Jackson, Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Kennedy Meeks — it’d be fantastic. And what a story it would be if a core group of players who decided to stay home and play for South Carolina, and believe Martin’s dream of what they could build, were able to finish this fairytale with a national title. It’s not too unbelievable to imagine any longer.

RELATED LINKS

Can the Gamecocks win the national championship?

South Carolina star Sindarius Thornwell misses practice due to illness

Frank Martin speaks on possible White House visit

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