South Carolina has some work to do in its final two series, and the Southeastern Conference tournament, if it wants to receive a top eight national seed in the NCAA tournament.
That much we know.
The Gamecocks host Wofford tonight, and cannot afford a slipup in that game, nor in their other remaining non-league game, against Presbyterian next Tuesday. Georgia comes to Columbia this weekend as the SEC’s worst team, with a 17-28 overall record and 5-16 league mark. Then USC finishes the regular season by traveling to Mississippi State, which is 36-13 and 13-11.
If the Gamecocks take care of business against Wofford and Presbyterian, sweep Georgia and win two of three at Mississippi State, it could bode well their chances of getting a national seed. They are currently on the outside of that group, after going 0-2 against Vanderbilt to end a challenging three-series stretch that began with a sweep of Kentucky and a 2-1 trip to LSU.
Of course, they will have chances to get more quality wins at the SEC tournament, as well.
“If you get in the top four of our league, I think you’re in the discussion for a national seed, especially if you play well in the (SEC) tournament,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “Our short-term goal is to try to finish in the top four, to get a bye in the SEC tournament.”
At this point, these are the contenders for the top four spots in the SEC, based on their league records …
Vanderbilt, 21-2, .913
LSU, 19-5, .792
Arkansas, 15-8, .652
USC, 13-10, .565
Mississippi State, 13-11, .542
Mississippi, 12-12, .500
Florida, 12-12, .500
Mississippi State and Ole Miss play this weekend. Presuming USC sweeps Georgia and Mississippi State sweeps Ole Miss, then the USC-Mississippi State series could very well determine the fourth spot in the SEC.
Will that mean a top eight national seed? And, more importantly, how badly does USC need a national seed?
History shows that since national seeds began for the 1999 NCAA tournament, 69 of the 112 national seeds have made the College World Series – 61.6 percent.
Of the five times USC has received a national seed, it has made the College World Series four times. Of the eight times it has not received a national seed, it has made the College World Series twice, and won the 2010 national championship.
It would certainly help the Gamecocks if they hosted a Super Regional – and getting a national seed would assure them of doing that, if they advanced that far. USC is 5-1 in home Super Regionals and 1-3 in road Super Regionals, with the only win coming in 2010 in Myrtle Beach over Coastal Carolina. That’s not exactly a true road environment for USC.
Like most teams, USC is better at home than on the road, though it’s important to remember that USC isn’t the home team in every Regional or Super Regional game just because it is the host. Even if USC doesn’t get a national seed, it could still host a Super Regional, if a national seed in its bracket falls, which happened in 2003, when Georgia Tech went down in the Regional.
That’s the main thing for USC – getting as many NCAA tournament home games as possible. History shows that it matters tremendously for the Gamecocks. So just how much better has USC been at home in the NCAA tournament, compared to on the road?
Let’s consider all 28 of USC’s NCAA tournament appearances, and every single Regional or Super Regional round the Gamecocks have played. (The Super Regional format began in 1999.)
In terms of whether or not USC won the Regional or Super Regional, it is 18-2 all-time in home NCAA tournament rounds and 3-15 in road rounds.
The only times USC has lost a home NCAA tournament round of any kind – the 1976 Regional and 2000 Super Regional. The only times USC has won a road NCAA tournament round – the 2003 and 2006 Regionals in Atlanta and Charlottesville, Va., and the 2010 Super Regional in Myrtle Beach.
In terms of individual games, USC is 55-8 in all home NCAA tournament games and 35-31 in all road NCAA tournament games. The only teams to beat USC at home in the NCAA tournament are Clemson and Furman in 1976, South Alabama in 1977, Louisiana-Lafayette twice in 2000, Central Florida in 2001, and North Carolina and Miami in 2002.
Since losing to Miami at home in the 2002 NCAA tournament, USC has won 24 consecutive NCAA tournament home games, including clean sweeps of 5-0 in home Regionals and Super Regionals the past two seasons. A big reason why USC went 30-4 in the NCAA tournament the past three seasons – with two national titles and a national runner-up finish last year – is that the Gamecocks are 13-0 at home over that span in tournament games.
Here’s a look at USC’s NCAA tournament history in the national seed era, including whether USC got a national seed, how far it advanced, and how many national seeds went to Omaha …
1999 … Missed NCAA tournament … 7 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2000 … No. 1 … home Super Regional … 4 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2001 … None … road Super Regional … 7 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2002 … No. 6 … CWS … 5 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2003 … None … CWS (hosted Super Regional anyway) … 5 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2004 … No. 2 … CWS … 4 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2005 … None … road Regional … 5 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2006 … None … road Super Regional … 5 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2007 … None … road Super Regional … 3 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2008 … None … road Regional … 6 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2009 … None … road Regional … 5 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2010 … None … National champions … 3 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2011 … No. 4 … National champions … 6 of 8 national seeds in CWS
2012 … No. 8 … National runner-up … 4 of 8 national seeds in CWS