Unless they make an historic run through the SEC tournament, the 2012-13 Gamecocks won’t be participating in the Big Dance. Since USC will likely be at home for the most exciting time of the year, we put together a different kind of tournament.
Using the simulation engines at WhatIfSports.com, we can find out who was the best South Carolina basketball team in recent memory. By taking the 11 Gamecock teams that the website offers and seeding the top eight, we get a tournament where USC fans are happy no matter the outcome.
Seed Year Record Starters
1 2003-04: 23-10 Michael Boynton, Josh Gonner, Tarence Kinsey, Kerbrell Brown, Carlos Powell
2 2008-09: 21-8 Devan Downey, Zam Fredrick, Dominique Archie, Mike Holmes, Sam Muldrow
3 2001-02: 18-14 Aaron Lucas, Chuck Eidson, Jamel Bradley, Marius Petravicius, Rolando Howell
4 2005-06: 18-15 Tre Kelley, Rocky Trice, Kinsey, Renaldo Balkman, Brandon Wallace
5 2009-10: 15-15 Downey, Brandis Raley-Ross, Lakeem Jackson, Austin Steed, Muldrow
6 1999-00: 15-17 Eidson, Lucas, Antonio Grant, Herbert Lee Davis, Tony Kitchings
7 2010-11: 14-15 Bruce Ellington, Brian Richardson, Jackson, Muldrow, Damontre Harris
8 2006-07: 14-15 Kelley, Bryce Sheldon, Dwayne Day, Archie, Wallace
(1) 03-04 77
(8) 06-07 48
The No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup shaped out about the way you would expect. The 03-04 squad jumped out to a 31-15 halftime lead and never looked back. Tre Kelley was the only bright spot for the 06-07 Gamecocks with 11 points. Tarence Kinsey led the way for the top-seeded Gamecocks with 11 points of his own. Josh Gonner, Michael Boynton, Rolando Howell and Kerbrell Brown also chipped in with 10 points each.
(4) 05-06 75
In a tossup game, Devan Downey proved to be the difference. Downey scored 20 points for the 09-10 team and the #5 seed dominated on the boards behind Sam Muldrow’s 12 rebounds. The 05-06 Gamecocks, led by Renaldo Balkman’s 13 points and seven rebounds, led 65-63 with less than five minutes remaining, but Mike Holmes scored eight of his 15 points as part of a 20-12 run in the final 4:32 to put the game away for good.
(3) 01-02 71
(6) 99-00 62
This one had the makings of a blowout after the 01-02 squad jumped out to a 37-22 lead at halftime. However, the 99-00 Gamecocks refused to go away, chipping away at the lead throughout the second half. A Lee Davis jumper cut the deficit to three and made the score 56-53 with five minutes remaining, but the #3 seed pulled away late for the win. Jamel Bradley led all scorers with 14 points.
(2) 08-09 71
(7) 10-11 54
The 10-11 Gamecocks fought to a 39-37 halftime lead, but the 10-11 squad flexed its muscle in the final 20 minutes, beginning the half on a 10-2 run and never looking back. Mike Holmes was the top performer of the game with a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds. Devan Downey dished out six assists, while adding eight points of his own. The #7 seed was led by Sam Muldrow’s 14 points and eight rebounds.
(5) 09-10 66
(1) 03-04 62
Surprise, surprise; in a big game, Devan Downey put on a show. Downey dropped in 26 points and the 09-10 Gamecocks jumped out to a 37-25 lead at halftime and hung on for a four-point victory. Downey broke open a 58-58 tie by drilling a 3-pointer from the wing with 2:25 to go. Ramon Galloway, who finished with 11 points, swished two clutch free throws with 11 seconds remaining and a Carlos Powell 3-pointer was off the mark to give the #5 seed the upset and a berth in the championship. Powell led the top-seeded 03-04 Gamecocks with 15 points.
(3) 01-02 69
(2) 08-09 59
A solid performance from Chuck Eidson prevented a Downey vs. Downey matchup in the championship. Eidson shot 7-of-12 from the field to lead the 01-02 squad with 16 points. The #2 seed led 37-31 to begin the second half, but a 13-2 run out of the locker room turned the momentum of the game. Eidson scored 11 of his 16 in the second half to help put the game out of reach. Aaron Lucas also added 10 points. Dominique Archie had a double-double for the 08-09 Gamecocks with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Devan Downey added 14 points in the losing effort.
(5) 09-10 84
(3) 01-02 74
In the Garnet & Black title game, Sam Muldrow took over, scoring 17 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking five shots. While Muldrow was the star of the contest, the 09-10 Gamecocks also got double-figures from Downey, Brandis Raley-Ross and Ramon Galloway. Jamel Bradley’s 17 points and four 3-pointers weren’t enough for the 01-02 Gamecocks, the #5 seed shot 8-of-11 from beyond the arc and over 50% from the field. Raley-Ross led the way with three trifectas. The 09-10 squad was also money from the charity stripe, knocking down 14-of-16 free throws, while the #3 seed hit just 9-of-16. The 09-10 team’s defense was crucial, as they completely shut down Chuck Eidson, who finished with just two points in 26 minutes.