By Rixon Lane
A thrilling win over North Carolina last night means the Gamecocks are heading to the Elite Eight for just the second time in program history.
There, they will face their third consecutive ACC opponent, the Florida State Seminoles.
You can't ask for much more than a #1 vs. #2 matchup with a trip to the Final Four on the line, but here are five reasons why the Gamecocks will be going to Tampa.
Yes, the Seminoles went to the Elite Eight back in 2010, and yes, South Carolina hasn't been since 2002, but no one on Florida State's team had ever been past the second round of the NCAA Tournament until this season. The Gamecocks have now been to the Sweet Sixteen three times in the last four seasons and South Carolina's seniors have now played in 10 tournament games. Don't expect the Gamecocks to be overcome by the stage.
2. Tiffany Flippin' Mitchell
The two-time SEC Player of the Year shows up in the biggest moments. After a cold start last night, Mitchell finished with 18 points and the game-winning layup with 3.5 seconds remaining. The junior from Charlotte is South Carolina's leading scorer and its deadliest mid-range jump shooter. If Mitchell heats up, she can hit from anywhere on the floor, as North Carolina learned. Don't be shocked if she comes up big again.
3. The Assassin
By the time you finish reading this sentence, Tina Roy has already buried another three-pointer. Not only did Roy drain four treys against the Tar Heels, she did so at the most opportune times for South Carolina. Roy is a three-point specialist in every since of the word and the ability to bring her off the bench means the Gamecocks are never out of a game, regardless of the score. When she's hot, South Carolina is even more dangerous.
4. Depth and Size
Florida State has three players who stand 6'3" or taller. One, center Adut Bulgak, is the leading scorer for the Seminoles. However, the other two, Gabby Bevillard and Kai James have combined to averaged just 8.9 minutes per game this season. Meanwhile, South Carolina can start Elem Ibiam and still bring Alaina Coates, A'ja Wilson, and Jatarie White off the bench at any point. There is no denying that the Gamecocks have the upper hand in this department.
5. The Logo
This has nothing to do with basketball, but Florida State should not be rewarded for ruining something wonderful. The Seminoles has one of the best logos in all of college athletics (below, on the left), but they went and ruined it last spring by unveiling this horrid thing that appears to be an Italian mobster in mid-yawn (below, right).
They must be punished.