(WSPA) – South Carolina ended a long wait and received its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004 Sunday but the Gamecocks will have a short trip to their opening round destination as they placed at The Well in downtown Greenville as a 7th seed in the East Region and will take on Marquette Friday at about 9:50 p.m.
USC, which dropped six of its past nine games, is 22-10 and have a resume that includes wins over Big Ten Tournament champion Michigan as well as SEC power Florida, among others.
The winner of South Carolina/Marquette gets the winner of Troy/Duke on Sunday, as Mike Krzyzewski brings his Blue Devils back to Greenville, where they won both of their games in the 2002 NCAA Tournament here, the only other time the event has been played in the upstate.
South Carolina and Marquette have not met recently but the Milwaukee-based school has a long history with USC as the programs met at least one per season throughout the ’70s, when both were independents.
The Eagles, out of the BIG EAST, are 19-12 and finished 10-8 in the conference as part of a four-way tie for third place. Among their wins this season was a 74-72 triumph over defending national champion and this year’s number one overall seed, Villanova.
Marquette is coached by Steve Wojciechowski, a former Krzyzewski assistant at Duke, In 2002, Coach K went against another former assistant in the second round, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey.
The other four teams coming to Greenville are in the South Region and include top seed North Carolina (27-7), which dropped an ACC semi-final game Friday night to Duke but still managed a number one seed, facing 16th-seed Texas Southern (23-11), champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and guided by former Indiana coach Mike Davis. Texas Southern makes its second visit to the Greenville arena in as many years as they faced Clemson there in November of 2015.
The other side of that bracket has eighth-seeded Arkansas (25-9), the SEC runner-up, facing another BIG EAST team, Seton Hall (21-11).
The Tar Heels return to the upstate for the second time this season. They escaped Littlejohn Coliseum with an 89-86 win.
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