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The bracket experts weigh in

Once again, there is a mixed set of bracket projections as it pertains to South Carolina's seeding in the NCAA tournament. Although if USC does make it in, it apparently will play Illinois out West.

That's the conclusion drawn by both ESPN and SI.com. The details:

ESPN's Joe Lunardi has USC as one of the last four in, apparently third-to-last. Arizona, Penn State and New Mexico also squeeze into Lunardi's bracket. The first four out are Florida, San Diego State, Creighton and Miami.

The bad news for the Gamecocks is that Lunardi's projection would send them all the way to Portland, Ore., as the 12th seed facing Illinois. Maybe fans could charter a plane with Tennessee fans, whose team would be a No. 6 seed and also be podded in Portland.

(Incidentally, "podded" is a word you'll hear more of over the next week. The NCAA doesn't try to keep regions together anymore, so often teams from different regions are in the same location.)

Then there's Andy Glockner of SI.com, who has South Carolina as a No. 11 seed, paired against Illinois in Boise, Idaho. Glockner's breakdown of the Gamecocks:

Since Florida just crept into the RPI top 50, the Gamecocks are now 1-5 in that category (having split with the Gators), are just 5-6 away from home, and have a non-league SOS in the 270s. They beat Auburn and swept Kentucky, if that comes into play. Their best non-league win is a one-point decision at now-disappointing Baylor. The Gamecocks would be wise not to crash out in the SEC quarterfinals against Mississippi State (or Georgia). That could leave them open to what, on the surface, would look like a surprising omission.

While Lunardi and Glockner continue to be South Carolina's friend, Jerry Palm continues to be skeptical. Palm has two brackets: an if-the-season-ended-today one on his site, CollegeRPI.com, and one that projects to the end of the season Sunday, on CBSsports.com. On both, he has South Carolina among his last four out.

But on his site Palm indicates South Carolina is his last team out of the field, with St. Mary's taking its place - a reason to watch that West Coast Conference final tonight between St. Mary's and Gonzaga.

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