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No. 4 Florida vs. No. 7 South Carolina Prediction, Game Preview

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South Carolina head coach Frank Martin chats with the media at the Garden on Thursday

For his team, Martin's glare, his yelling, and his fire are something else.

Two SEC East rivals will battle in the Elite Eight on Sunday in New York City for a trip to Glendale, Arizona, for the Final Four. Within our conference, we know the potential and I think that our conference has, is full of good coaches, tremendous talent, a lot of young talent, recruiting classes continue to get stronger and stronger and we have three (Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida) in the Elite 8. "You could feel it on the court, I'm pretty sure you could feel it in the stands, the momentum that they give for us to compete night in and night out".

And this season is the ideal microcosm of what Drew has done in his 14 seasons in Waco.

He doesn't mean to come across as arrogant. Instead, the seventh-seeded Gamecocks just flat took over the joint, made the storied Madison Square Garden their own with the sheer floor-pounding energy with which they play, and the result was a 70-50 victory over third-seeded Baylor to reach the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. The numbers spoke for themselves: Baylor shot 30 percent overall and 23 percent from three.

"It's something special here", said junior A'ja Wilson, who leads USC with 17.7 points per game.

Wilson a superstar: A'Ja Wilson has been an iron woman for SC. "Time to get locked in".

It's been a year of revelation and redemption for Thornwell, one of those rare combinations of National Basketball Association prospect and four-year college player. That couldn't be more true about Thornwell and the Gamecocks.

Sindarius Thornwell provided most of the offense for the Gamecocks with 24 points and six rebounds. "We pride ourselves on our defense".

Fans say regardless of the game's outcome, they're proud of their team. SC finished off Duke 88-81 with a second-half run of 65 points-26 in the paint and 10 on the fast break.

Thornwell, a SC native from Lancaster, was a solid recruit from Oak Hill Academy. SC won both games. The Gamecocks rank second in the nation in defensive efficiency according to KenPom and routinely hold opponents in the 50s and 60s. For some teams, the designation doesn't matter much, but Motley's rim protection wavered this past year at power forward, his block rate dropping from 6.3% to 3.8%. Little did we know the future was now. "We want to keep winning".

That, however, is less a byproduct of Baylor's woeful offense than it is of the SC defense.

Looking back, Martin knew early on that this was possible, even if it didn't click until March. That was followed by an 86-46 win over California.

"I know that certainly was my dream a long time ago, and for that dream to become a reality, and to make this possible, this opportunity possible, to be playing in the Sweet 16, we're really excited to be here", Fabbri said.

"I thought our depth has surfaced big time in these two playoff games".

Kentucky and Florida both have a really great shot at making it to the Final Four, but it is hard to count out SC and Sindarius Thornwell against anyone - even the Gators. They double teamed Motley from the top and run their defensive rotations with exemplary effort and dedication. Duke committed 18 turnovers, including five each from Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson. The senior guard would rather things not come to that. Fay leads the team with 10.4 points a game and Martucci is at 10.3, but they are the only double-figure scorers on the team.

"Coach told us just to continue to listen to him", Thornwell said.

With only 4 seconds left, just getting into position to take a decent shot is hard, but Florida has the type of players needed to pull it off. "We've seen it all year", Mulkey said.

No matter what happens in that game, a dream has been fulfilled. A year later, and they are on the verge of going where no Gamecock has gone before.

"We're not satisfied", he said.

It was a disheartening end to a season, a loss that will surely provide fodder for the people that traffic in "Scott Drew can't coach" jokes, the irony being that the 2016-17 season was definitive proof that Scott Drew is nearly certainly better at his job than you are at yours.

Now, South Carolina is one win away from the Final Four.

USC will play Florida at 2:20 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

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