Thornwell: 'These are the games you live for and play basketball for'
Sindarius Thornwell put it best. It’s only one win. They don’t get credit for six.
Yet it feels like they do.
We were all well-versed in the ways of the NCAA selection committee last year, whose criteria was clear as mud. What was more important – total wins or top-50 RPI wins or top-100 RPI wins or strength of schedule?
Nobody really knew, except they decided South Carolina didn’t have enough of whatever. The message was clear – we don’t care how many games you win, you’ve got to go beat somebody that’s somebody.
The Gamecocks responded by scheduling extremely tough, with basically road games against Syracuse and Seton Hall and hosting Michigan. Monmouth, Vermont and Memphis weren’t exactly the capers of the meal.
While they won four of those, they were getting no credit. Which is the most head-against-the-wall scenario possible.
The Gamecocks couldn’t help Syracuse stinking up the season (they were 18th when USC beat them). They have no pull in helping Michigan win now (12-7). It was the same story as last year – games that looked good when the schedule was made and better when USC won, all of a sudden looked bad.
That’s why Jerry Palm and others were projecting the Gamecocks as an NCAA Tournament team, but just barely.
So USC did something about it. It beat Florida Wednesday.
The Gators’ RPI was fourth and strength of schedule was first. The Gamecocks beat them.
That win won’t pale by March. It won’t disappear. Yes, it’s only one win … but it certainly feels like six.
USC still has a long way to go, but it can see the path glowing. It’s also fighting for a conference championship, and it has another chance to for a huge win on Saturday at Kentucky.
Frank Martin was asked if Wednesday changed perception of his program. The USC coach pointed out the national writers love USC (although I wonder if Palm is included).
He was also quick to point out that this win stands out, but it means nothing if the Gamecocks don’t keep winning.
“They know we’re good. That’s why we’re ranked,” Martin said. “But we can’t worry about all that stuff. I got to worry about getting our guys to play that hard every day and we got to play better offense.”
The résumé is being prepared. It starts with a bang.
Now to write the conclusion.
Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState