Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
The Gamecocks are ready for their closeup with a primetime Sweet 16 game against Baylor on Friday night.

The importance of momentum and final thoughts on the Gamecocks’ Sweet 16 game against Baylor

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“The only thing between [Baylor] and Phoenix is a South Carolina team that was 2-5 in its seven games before the NCAA Tournament and either a Florida team that went 1-3 in its four games before the NCAA Tournament or a Wisconsin team that went 4-6 in its 10 games before the NCAA Tournament,” writes CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish. “The door is wide open, Baylor. It’s time to walk through.”

C’mon, Gary!

Parrish isn’t the only expert calling for a Baylor win on Friday; six of the seven CBS Sports’ expert brackets have the Bears moving on to the Elite 8.

Sure, the Bears have the higher seed and at one point they were ranked No. 1 in the nation, but the Gamecocks are coming off their best two games of the season.

South Carolina, a team known for its defense throughout the season, is averaging more than 90 points per game in the tournament.

In March, I think momentum is absolutely critical — and the Gamecocks are coming to MSG with all the confidence in the world. I think that #BeatDuke pixie dust leads USC to the Elite 8.

Behind enemy lines

SB Nation’s Baylor blog, Our Daily Bears, offered up a prediction for the game …

“Baylor has the better team. They have the best player, and they have a combination of size that should give South Carolina trouble. If the Bears play close to their best, they should win this game.”

Pretty unbiased if you ask me. Only thing I might argue is Sindarius Thornwell over Johnathan Motley. Guess we’ll find out soon enough!

‘Good morning’ from Frank Martin

Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin was a man about town on Thursday, kicking things off on Good Morning America …

RELATED: South Carolina coach Frank Martin makes appearance on ‘Good Morning America’

What a way to spend your 51st birthday, a prime guest spot on a nationally broadcast news program a day before your team’s Sweet 16 appearance.

The tour continues …

Following GMA, Frank Martin’s Global Media Takeover continued with an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show.

RELATED: South Carolina coach Frank Martin displays bouncer moves on The Dan Patrick Show 

Sure, Martin talked hoops, but he also got to show off his bouncing chops with DP and company…

Thomas returning

Set to attend the South Carolina spring game on April 1, 5-star DE Xavier Thomas has already announced an even earlier visit to Columbia …

RELATED: Xavier Thomas announces return visit to South Carolina 

The nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for 2018 joined 4-star 2018 LB Quin Williams and 2019 S/LB Jordan Huff on campus for practice on Thursday.

Things seem to be shaping up well for the Gamecocks and Thomas. The Florence, S.C., prospect is reportedly deliberating between USC and Clemson and is set to announce one of the two on Dec. 20.

More from Greenwood

South Carolina football-Kobe Alexander
Kobe Alexander is another Greenwood Eagle to watch. (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

Three-star WR Sam Pinckney (highlighted in C&W on Wednesday) isn’t the only Greenwood player catching the eye of college coaches.

RELATED: Three from Greenwood turning heads on the recruiting trail

Kobe Alexander and Dre Butler are two other Greenwood Eagles hearing from Power 5 coaches …

“If everything falls together for (Alexander), there’s no telling. There’s just no telling how good he can be,” Greenwood coach Dan Pippin said. “He’s got a mean streak to him, which is pretty good.”

“You get attached to the kids and you want them to be successful and (Butler) has the potential to be very successful, and that’s (as) a prototypical NFL left tackle, in my opinion, or a right tackle,” Pippin continued.

Both players have already visited Columbia.

Lady Gamecocks prepare for Bobcats

The Gamecocks were all smiles earlier this week, but A’ja Wilson knows the Bobcats are no laughing matter.

Playing the role of the giant against No. 12-seeded Quinnipiac on Saturday, the Lady Gamecocks know not to overlook a Cinderella team with momentum …

RELATED: South Carolina women’s basketball not going to ‘sleep on’ Quinnipiac

“It can be very dangerous,” SEC Player of the Year A’ja Wilson said of playing the hot-handed lower seed. “They’ve got a lot of heart. Cinderella teams are very dangerous because they’ve got nothing to lose. They are very happy where they are and they beat some good teams. It’s going to be a tough game. I’m not going to look at their seed number.”

The Gamecocks and Bobcats tip off Saturday afternoon.

Sweet 16 excitement

On Thursday, I compared the Gamecocks’ victory against Duke to a “quickening” from The Highlander, in which the victor would inherit the strength (or “the prize”) of the defeated. It’s only fitting that we listen to this forgotten classic from Queen to get pumped for the big game.

With the Duke mojo, I’m calling for a Carolina victory Friday night.