Frank Martin breaks down what he likes about newcomers, returnees
South Carolina won’t play a true road game until Dec. 4, it visits its arch-rival on Dec. 15 and is the guest of the defending national champions on Dec. 22.
The above all became official Tuesday morning when the Gamecocks released their 2019-20 non-conference schedule.
“Once again we are excited about the non-conference schedule that we have put together,” USC coach Frank Martin said in a press release . “Our team will be challenged by postseason tournament teams in games on the road, on neutral courts and at home. There is a buzz in town about our team and we can’t wait to see our great fans at Colonial Life Arena supporting these young men. The schedule will once again prepare us for how good we have to be to challenge for our ultimate goal, an SEC championship.”
The five-game homestand to start the season is followed by a trip to Mexico to face Wichita State and then either West Virginia or Northern Iowa to wrap the Cancun Challenge.
USC’s first true road test in Game No. 9 at Massachusetts. Of Carolina’s first nine opponents, only two — Wichita State (NIT participant) and Gardner-Webb (NCAA Tournament) — had winning records last season. West Virginia missed the Big Dance last year for the first time since 2014. Wyoming won just eight times in 2018-19, but one came against the Gamecocks in Laramie.
Things toughen in December when USC hosts Houston and travels to Clemson and Virginia over three consecutive games. Those programs went a combined 88-21 last year with the Cougars advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers making the second round of the NIT and Cavaliers winning the national title. Houston (7-seed) and UVa (5-seed) are in Joe Lunardi’s offseason projection of the 2020 NCAA Tournament field.
The Houston game is part of a new scheduling alliance between the SEC and American Athletic Conference. The Cougars won that league’s regular season title last year.
The Clemson game continues the annual series. USC is 1-2 on the Tigers’ home floor under Martin.
What’s missing from this schedule is the once-annual late December game with an in-state Division II opponent, confirming what Martin said earlier this summer. In that slot this season is a Dec. 30 game with Stetson. The Hatters feature local connections in guards Christiaan Jones (Cardinal Newman) and Keith Matthews (Blythewood).
What’s also missing is a previously scheduled trip to Coastal Carolina. Announced in August 2017, the Gamecocks and Chanticleers were set to end a three-game series in Conway. That game has now been pushed to the 2020-21 season, a USC spokesperson confirmed to The State.
Game times and broadcast details are to be announced at a later date.
South Carolina’s 2019-20 basketball schedule
Nov. 6 — North Alabama
Nov. 10 — Wyoming
Nov. 15 — Cleveland State
Nov. 19 — Boston University (Cancun Challenge, Columbia, S.C.)
Nov. 22 — Gardner-Webb (Cancun Challenge, Columbia, S.C.)
Nov. 26 — Wichita State (Cancun Challenge, Cancun, Mexico)
Nov. 27 — West Virginia OR Northern Iowa (Cancun Challenge, Cancun, Mexico)
Dec. 1 — George Washington
Dec. 4 — at UMass
Dec. 8 — Houston
Dec. 15 at Clemson
Dec. 22 at Virginia
Dec. 30 — Stetson
TBA — Tennessee
TBA — at Tennessee
TBA — Texas A&M
TBA — at Texas A&M
TBA — Georgia
TBA — at Georgia
TBA — Vanderbilt
TBA — at Vanderbilt
TBA — Mississippi State
TBA — at Mississippi State
TBA — Kentucky
TBA — LSU
TBA — Missouri
TBA — Florida
TBA — at Alabama
TBA — at Arkansas
TBA — at Auburn
TBA — at Ole Miss
Home games in BOLD.