South Carolina isn’t yet back in the Top 25, but at the conclusion of non-conference play USC has made enough noise that they are showing up on some voters’ ballots. Carolina received the 35th most votes in the AP poll and the 37th in the Coaches’ poll.
Saturday’s victory over then Top 10 Iowa State in Brooklyn was the catalyst for the jump. While being in the also receiving votes category is not usually something to crow about, it is a big step for Frank Martin and the program. For too long USC has languished outside of the basketball mainstream. Wins like the one over Oklahoma State and now Iowa State are helping put USC back on the map.
Hopefully Carolina can win some more games and get into the Top 25 proper, but that’s more a product of winning games than a goal itself. What is important about being in the Top 25, and to a lesser extent receiving votes, is that the program is back to relevance. If USC is going to make the NCAA tournament, or even the NIT, they need to be around the Top 25, and they need to be part of the decision makers thinking.
Recruiting needs to continue to improve. Sindarius Thornwell was a huge get two years ago, and Perry Dozier is as well. Good players want to play for good coaches which together create good programs. We’re seeing the beginning of that result here in Columbia with the first appearance in the polls. Hopefully the day will come where being ranked is normal, not something new.
Up next is a big game against Florida. The Gators have struggled some against a difficult schedule, but they are a good team, and Carolina needs to defend its home court.