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Sweet Sixteen Game Thread: South Carolina v Baylor

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Scott Drew and the Bears can make their third Elite Eight since 2010. Frank Martin, of all people, stands in their way.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional Practice Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Drew has reached the Sweet Sixteen four times in the last eight Tournaments. For the first one, he had a top six NBA draft pick. The next two featured several three star recruits. This time, I don’t think he even has a four star guy (I dare you to #wellactually me), and it might be the most balanced team since the first one. It sure as heck is fun to root for, what with all the stout defense and bruising offense. Johnathan Motley is a stud, Manu Lecomte is a flamethrower, Terry Maston is a gazelle, Jo Lual-Acuil is a mean, mean man, Jake Lindsey is a GM’s son, Ish Wainright is the smiling face of sacrificial competitiveness, and all the rest fill the cracks, knock down some shots from outside, and play hard as all get out when the game’s on the line.

South Carolina is no slouch of a team. Frank Martin harbors no weakness in his players, mentally, physically, or cosmically. The last adverb will make sense only to those who have seen Martin cast a player into the outer reaches of the universe with a glare radiant with its heat and power and contempt. Having seen the darkest corners of their being, his players lock down on defense (4th in Kenpom’s rating system) and are pretty mediocre offensively, perhaps owing to their existential despair. Sindarius Thornwell is really good, though, and the Gamecocks are difficult to match up with on the perimeter. Lecomte could have a tough time in man defense tonight, but Baylor should otherwise have the size and length to make things tough.

Duke didn’t show up, but this could still be a sweet, sweet night for the Bears. Sic’em in the comments.