The NCAA Tournament is likely to return to Columbia after a 49-year hiatus with a bang.
At least that’s what bracket projections are suggesting.
The latest from Joe Lunardi
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
ESPN’s top bracketologist last updated his bracket Tuesday morning. He has the following matchups happening in Columbia:
(1) Duke vs. (16) Bucknell
(8) Baylor vs. (9) Ohio State
(1) Virginia vs. (16) Rider
(8) Ole Miss vs. (9) Minnesota
Potential Storylines: Zion Williamson, arguably the greatest prospect to ever come out of the Palmetto State, would return home to play in his first — and highly likely only — NCAA Tournament.
The Spartanburg product and potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft is averaging 22.3 points and nine rebounds a game for the Blue Devils.
Appearances by Virginia and Ole Miss would be each team’s second Columbia trip of the season. The Cavaliers beat South Carolina on Dec. 19 and the Rebels come here Feb. 19. Ole Miss features Irmo’s Devontae Shuler.
Ohio State last came to CLA on Dec. 17, 2011. The then-No. 2 Buckeyes beat the Gamecocks, 74-66.
The latest from Jerry Palm
The top bracketologist from CBS Sports last updated his bracket Sunday night. He has the following matchups happening in Columbia:
(1) Duke vs. (16) Rider
(8) Cincinnati vs. (9) Auburn
(1) Tennessee vs. (16) Norfolk State-Robert Morris winner
(8) Syracuse vs. (9) St. John’s
Potential storylines: A Duke-Auburn second round game would be a rematch from the Maui Invitational.
USC beat the Tigers at Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 22. Tennessee beat the Gamecocks at CLA on Jan. 29. The Volunteers would be gunning for their first Sweet 16 since 2014.
Syracuse-St. John’s would have national appeal due to it renewing a classic Big East rivalry. Also former Gamecock Sedee Keita now plays for St. John’s.