In a UNC-Duke World, South Carolina is the Greenville Headliner
When the lineup for the NCAA tournament 1st round games was announced for the Greenville site, all eyes quickly turned to (1)UNC and (2)Duke as they were sandwiched in the middle of the day's schedule. And while the Tar Heels and Blue Devils have two of the biggest fan bases in the country, it was the Gamecocks of South Carolina that turned out to be the marquee team on Friday.
Bon Secours Wellness Arena was packed all day with Tar Heel blue, dark Duke blue, and, of course, some St. Patrick's Day green... but when 9:45 rolled around for the day's last game between South Carolina and Marquette, the arena was suddenly packed with the garnet and black of South Carolina.
In one of the loudest atmospheres you'll ever hear during a 1st round game of the NCAA tournament, the Gamecocks beat Marquette 93-73 to win their first NCAA tournament game since 1973. After the game, Marquette said the fans were so loud, they felt like they were playing a road game.
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin and his players acknowledged the fact that the huge crowd support helped them get through a very tough Marquette team.
"Our fans paid a lot of money for the tickets they got," Martin said. "Because those tickets were not available when we got put on the board. So people spent a lot of money to support our guys. That's how important this was to a lot of people."
When asked if this was the greatest game he's ever been a part of, USC guard P.J. Dozier said, "It's up there, it's up there! If not, it's definitely up there. We just thank those fans that came out and supported, the fans that watched on TV... playing in front of an atmosphere like that is just something that you dream about playinig."
"Right now, it's up there," said Sindarius Thornwell. "Just because it's one of the things that this school and this program hasn't done in a long time."
(7)South Carolina will play (2)Duke at 8:40 pm on Sunday night at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville