March Madness is here! No. 1 South Carolina WBB learns NCAA Tournament path, schedule

South Carolina’s quest for a third national title begins this week.

The Gamecocks were selected Sunday the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed for the third year in a row after completing another undefeated season and SEC Tournament championship run.

USC will play its first game at at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia versus a to-be-determined No. 16 seed. South Carolina will face the winner of First Four participants Sacred Heart and Presbyterian (which USC defeated 99-29 at home in December). Those two teams will compete at Colonial Life Arena to earn the 16-seed spot.

The other two teams playing in Columbia are No. 8 seed North Carolina (which USC defeated 65-58 at Chapel Hill in November) and No. 9 seed Michigan State. The winner of that game will play the winner of South Carolina vs. the 16 seed.

The first- and second-round games will be Friday and Sunday, but TV channels and tip times weren’t immediately known.

Coach Dawn Staley and the rest of the Gamecocks watched the Selection Sunday reveal show surrounded by USC fans at Colonial Life Arena. When South Carolina’s seeding became official, it was met with raucous cheers from the crowd, which filled up about three sections (104-106).

The Gamecocks’ status as the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament was never in question. Just like last year, the team was undefeated heading into March Madness. But Sunday’s announcement felt different for the same reason the 2023-24 season felt different.

“Last year was more like Groundhog’s Day,” Staley said. “You get through the regular season to get to the Final Four and championship, because they knew what they had to do.

This team, they just start over every day. Every day is something new. Every day they work hard. Every day they just figure it out.

“And it’s kind of a scary-but-cool dynamic.”

The Gamecocks will play in the Albany 1 (New York) Region, as the NCAA Tournament’s two-site format continues for a second straight year. The other regional pod is in Portland, Oregon.

South Carolina is one of four No. 1 seeds, joined by Iowa, Southern Cal and Texas.

The top seeds in the Albany 1 Region are No. 1 South Carolina (top overall), No. 2 Notre Dame (which USC beat by 29 in the season opener in Paris), No. 3 Oregon State and No. 4 Indiana.

Should the Gamecocks advance, they’ll head to MVP Arena in Albany for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Those rounds will take place from March 29-April 1.

The Final Four and national championship game will be held at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. The national semifinals are scheduled for April 5, and the championship is scheduled for April 7.

With Iowa as the No. 1 seed in Albany 2, a rematch of the 2023 Final Four would only be possible in the national title game.

The Gamecocks finished the regular season 29-0, the best record in program history. Now 32-0, USC has the potential to become the 10th women’s basketball team in the NCAA era to finish the season as the undefeated champion.

South Carolina women’s basketball NCAA Tournament history
Listed by year and with tournament seed, finish; 2020 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

2024 — No. 1 seed, TBD

2023 — No. 1 seed, Final Four

2022 — No. 1 seed, national champion

2021 — No. 1 seed, Final Four

2019 — No. 4 seed, Sweet 16

2018 — No. 2 seed, Elite Eight

2017 — No. 1 seed, National champion

2016 — No. 1 seed, Sweet 16

2015 — No. 1 seed, Final Four

2014 — No. 1 seed, Sweet 16

2013 — No. 4 seed, second round

2012 — No. 5 seed, Sweet 16

This story was originally published March 17, 2024, 8:06 PM.

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