I once saw Georgia and Mississippi State win four games in four days to win SEC tournaments. In Georgia’s case, I saw the Bulldogs win four games in three days.
Those kinds of miraculous runs clearly can happen.
But with the SEC tournament adding a fifth day, it’s going to be awfully hard for a team to ever win five in five.
That’s why South Carolina’s next step has to be to avoid the first day of the SEC tournament.
The Gamecocks have played on the first day for six straight seasons. To their credit, in the last two, they’ve won two games each and gotten to the third day.
Then fatigue set in. Last year, USC played Tennessee in the third game and was manhandled (which probably would have happened if the Gamecocks had been fresh). This year, USC played a Georgia team it already beat twice, but the Bulldogs ran USC to death in the first half and bullied them in the paint through 40 minutes.
If a team can get to that final game, energy can be found through the excitement of the moment. Odds are, if you’re in the final game after playing on the first day, you know that a bad season is only one win away from being a great season. That overcomes being tired.
The problem these days is getting to that final game. While USC got to the third day and Auburn is playing on the fourth, the Gamecocks were worn out and the Tigers, besides being tired, have to play Kentucky. I don’t think any glass slippers need to be sized this year.
A top-four finish means winning three in three. A top-10 means four in four. The Gamecocks were close to starting the tournament on Thursday this year, but finished a game out.
Frank Martin’s program has taken small steps the last two years. The next is to find one more win to get into that Top 10 and make the possibility of winning the SEC tournament a little higher.