3 South Carolina
Coach Eddie Fogler
Team scoring 71.7 (FG%: 44.2) (3-pointers: 171-515, 33.2%)
Opponents' scoring 675 (FG%: 41.1)
Rebound margin +2.5
Team FT% 69.2
Whom not to foul BJ McKie (78%), Melvin Watson (77%)
Whom to foul Herbert Lee Davis (48%), William Gallman (58%)
Quality wins Maryland 76-72, Cincinnati 67-65
Player to Watch
Strong guard play and a knack for winning close games are key elements for success in the tournament, and the Gamecocks have both in one player, junior shooting guard McKie. His scoring (18.7) and his cool in tight situations—he drained the winning basket with 1.2 seconds left to beat Georgia on Feb. 24, for instance—are the main reasons that South Carolina is 9-1 in games decided by five points or less.
Freshman forward Antonio Grant tipped in the game-winner with 0.9 of a second left against Florida and, three days later, on Feb. 1, pumped in a miracle three-pointer at the buzzer to cap a 23-point comeback victory against Cincinnati. So do all those late-game heroics make the Gamecocks clutch winners or a team capable of a first-round loss, like the South Carolina squad of a year ago? Living dangerously could take its toll.
Alas for the Gamecocks, a No. 14 seed usually takes out a No. 3, and first-round foe Richmond has a knack for the upset.
Coach John Beilein
Team scoring 70.4 (FG%: 46.1) (3-pointers: 226-555, 40.7%)
Opponents' scoring 61.3 (FG%: 44.4)
Team FT% 69.4
Whom not to foul Daryl Oliver (83%), Jarod Stevenson (79%)
Whom to foul Nick Patrick (50%), Eric Poole (62%)
Quality win Virginia 83-79
Player to Watch
"Daryl Oliver is a kid no one wanted," Spiders assistant coach Jeff Neubauer says, and he's including his own team. Oliver, a senior guard, got a scholarship from Richmond only after another recruit bailed out at the last minute, and he lost his starting job before this season started. No problem. He has made himself a sixth-man extraordinaire in Richmond's new three-guard offense, averaging 13.7 points a game in the Colonial conference tournament to win the MVP award.
If the itsy-bitsy Spiders (tallest starter: 6'8" forward Poole) are to add to their glorious tournament history-upsets of Auburn, Indiana, Georgia Tech and Syracuse between 1984 and '91—two things have to happen: Forward Stevenson (18.9) must stay hot (he shot 47.5% from three-point range this year), and the Richmond D, an aggressive man-to-man with zone traps, must be suffocating.