Western Michigan (1-0) at South Carolina (1-0)
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
Line: South Carolina by 12
KenPom prediction: South Carolina 79, Western Michigan 65
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 107.5 The Game
Series: First meeting
Coach: Steve Hawkins (391-315 in 23 seasons overall; 15th season at Western Michigan – 254-204)
Projected starters: G Bryce Moore (2.0 ppg), G Thomas Wilder (16.0), G Reggie Jones (11.0), F Brandon Johnson (14.0), C Seth Dugan (8.0)
Notes: Western Michigan, 103-72 winners over Siena Heights on Saturday, was picked by the league’s coaches to win the Mid-American Conference. … The Broncos have won eight MAC West Division titles under Hawkins. ... WMU last faced an SEC opponent on Dec. 30, 2015, when it lost 86-61 at Vanderbilt.
Coach: Frank Martin (214-128 in 10 seasons overall; sixth season at USC — 97-74)
Projected starters: G Hassani Gravett (5.0); G Frank Booker (12.0); G/F Justin Minaya (6.0); F Chris Silva (9.0); C Maik Kotsar (13.0)
Notes: USC had nine players see at least 10 minutes of action in the Wofford win. None of them were Delaware transfer Kory Holden. ... The Gamecocks last faced a MAC opponent on Nov. 23, 2014, when they lost to Akron in Charleston. ... Kotsar led the Gamecocks with 13 points against Wofford. The sophomore center now has 10 career double-digit scoring efforts – eight of them have come in non-SEC games.
1. Banner night
The Gamecocks will raise their Final Four banner prior to tip-off, reminding everyone of last year’s historic achievement – but also of what little is left from that team.
The 2017-18 version of USC is a collection of new faces. An encouraging sign from Spartanburg? The new guys scored 26 of Carolina’s 33 first-half points en route to the win over Wofford.
2. Defending Wilder
Wilder, a preseason All-MAC selection, tested the NBA waters last summer before returning to the Broncos for his senior year. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged over 19 points a game last season. He scored a game-high 16 in WMU’s win over Siena Heights on Saturday.
USC held Wofford’s best scorer – 6-foot-4 junior guard Fletcher Magee – to two second half points Friday.
3. Win now, celebrate it later
Western Michigan has won 20 or more games three consecutive seasons. The Broncos’ reputation was part of Martin’s preseason rant in which he noted USC is NOT playing a “soft” non-conference schedule.
A USC victory Monday could definitely benefit the Gamecocks come March.