Fans invited to Colonial Life Arena for celebration, NCAA women's selection show

South Carolina State Fair - 10/19/08Miss Saturday's gallery? Click here or here for all galleries.
South Carolina State Fair - 10/19/08Miss Saturday's gallery? Click here or here for all galleries. jblake@thestate.com

South Carolina women’s basketball will celebrate the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket with its fans on Monday, Mar. 17, at Colonial Life Arena.

The main entrance of the arena will open at 5:45 p.m. for the event sponsored by Hilton Columbia Center, which will begin with an autograph session and other activities prior to the selection show’s start at 7 p.m. The first 1,500 fans will receive free T-shirts.

“We’re excited to throw this year’s party inside the arena, watching on the big screen,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “Our fans have been so supportive all season that we wanted to make sure we could share this celebration with as many of them as possible. They have had a huge part in what we’ve done this year and in what we look forward to in the NCAA Tournament.”

The Gamecocks will sign autographs 6 to 6:30 p.m. on the arena floor. A bounce house and other inflatables will be set up on court-level, and in-game master of ceremonies Curtis Wilson will greet the crowd and organize games with fans and student-athletes until the selection show starts at 7 p.m.

Everyone will watch the ESPN broadcast on the scoreboard, and Staley will address the crowd once the Gamecocks have been selected. Fans are welcome to sit anywhere in sections 103-108, and concession stands will be open in those areas as well. IMG Ticketing will also be on hand to take deposits for 2014-15 season tickets.

South Carolina is ranked No. 8 in this week’s Associated Press poll with a 27-4 record on the season. The Gamecocks won the SEC regular-season title for the first time in program history and dominated the individual awards issued by the league’s coaches with Staley named Coach of the Year, Tiffany Mitchell Player of the Year and Alaina Coates both the Freshman and the co-6th Player of the Year.

NCAA Tournament games begin Saturday, March 22, or Sunday, March 23, depending on the site.

The pre-determined first/second-round sites are:

-- Ames, Iowa;

-- Baton Rouge, La.;

-- Chapel Hill, N.C.;

-- College Park, Md.;

-- College Station, Texas;

-- Durham, N.C.;

-- Iowa City, Iowa;

-- Knoxville, Tenn.;

-- Lexington, Ky.;

-- Los Angeles;

-- Seattle;

-- Storrs, Conn.;

-- Toledo, Ohio;

-- University Park, Pa.;

-- Waco, Texas; and

-- West Lafayette, Ind.