Coming out of SEC media day last October, Andy Katz, after being around Frank Martin, made a bold prediction. The NCAA.com college basketball writer had South Carolina making some form of the postseason.
The Gamecocks, in Katz’s mind, were going to exceed expectations placed on them by the preseason SEC poll.
“I’m not always easily swayed,” Katz posted Oct. 17, 2018, “but when you spend time with Frank Martin and look at the roster, you’ll see that the Gamecocks should not have been predicted to finish 11th. I could see South Carolina finishing higher. Four starters are back. And Chris Silva is a conference player of the year possibility. There is no way Martin is finishing out of the postseason. Don’t see it at all.”
His feel ended up being good. Kind of.
While Carolina failed to make the NIT or NCAA Tournament, it did win 11 SEC games and finish fourth in the league.
Fifty days ahead of opening night for the 2019-20 season, Katz is back high on the Gamecocks. He’s got them making the Big Dance for the first time since the 2017 Final Four run.
Katz has USC as an 11-seed, playing a “First Four” game against Michigan in Dayton, Ohio. A win there and the hypothetical first round matchup is with sixth-seeded Utah State in Greensboro, North Carolina.
This would be Carolina’s 10th NCAA Tournament appearance and second under Martin. The eighth-year coach said this summer the 2019-20 Gamecocks are the “most talented” since his arrival from Kansas State. Rising sophomores A.J. Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant are the headliners and senior center Maik Kotsar is the other returning starter. Touted newcomers include Jermaine Couisnard (redshirt freshman), Jair Bolden (George Washington transfer) and Trae Hannibal (freshman).
USC opens the season Nov. 6 against North Alabama.