Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
Brooklyn native Rakym Felder returns home as the Gamecocks head to New York for the Sweet 16.

Picks and predictions for South Carolina vs. Baylor in the Sweet 16

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Despite an impressive performance in the tournament’s opening weekend, the Gamecocks are still lacking serious believers among the media.

Only one of CBS Sports’ seven experts has South Carolina winning its Sweet 16 game against Baylor …

Howard-Megdal-CBS-Sports
Via CBSSports.com

In Howard Megdal we trust!

The fine folks (computers?) at FiveThirtyEight give the Gamecocks a 44 percent chance of pulling off the upset on Friday night — with a 1 percent chance of winning it all.

Before you let the picks shake your faith, just remember South Carolina originally had just a 13 percent chance of making it to the Sweet 16. And look at us now … getting shout-outs on The Tonight Show!

I firmly believe that in defeating Duke, the Gamecocks have inherited the Blue Devils’ basketball powers — giving them the ability to top the Bears on Friday and emerge from the region victorious. A Quickening (a la The Highlander), if you will.

Coach Frank Martin may not be as into the classic Christopher Lambert film as I am, but he certainly believes in his Gamecocks, and you should, too.

‘We can win it’

Frank Martin knows his players “earned the right to go to the Sweet 16.”

It was an offhand comment made in a euphoric locker room celebration, but coach Martin stood by his statement from Sunday …

RELATED: Frank Martin on national title comment: ‘I believe we can win it’ 

“I thought it would be a powerful moment to let them know,” Martin said. “Doesn’t mean we are going to win it, but I believe we can win it, and let them know that in a moment where they are happy with their accomplishment.”

‘Secure the bag’ explained

Throughout the 2016-17 season, senior F Sindarius Thornwell and his teammates have been preaching #SecureTheBag.

RELATED: Gamecocks’ Sindarius Thornwell explains ‘secure the bag’ motto

On Tuesday, the unhip (myself included) finally got the story behind the team’s motto …

“Secure the bag, it’s just take advantage of the opportunity,” Thornwell said. “Your bag is not necessarily money or anything. Whatever your opportunity is and what you’re blessed to be given, just take advantage of it. We are just trying to take advantage of every opportunity.”

The League’s for later

PJ Dozier-South Carolina-South Carolina basketball
PG PJ Dozier is averaging 16.0 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Anxious that PJ Dozier has his eye on the NBA with the Sweet 16 coming up? Don’t be.

RELATED: South Carolina’s PJ Dozier ‘not worried’ about possible NBA decision

The Gamecocks’ star point guard assured fans and media alike that he has one thing and only one thing on his mind right now …

“Not worried about it at all right now,” Dozier said Tuesday. “We have one objective right now: to win games here. That’s why I came here. I came here to be a college basketball player and I’m really enjoying it. That’s where I’m at and I haven’t thought anything about that.”

2018 QB likes the Gamecocks

Four-star QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson listed the Gamecocks in his ‘final 7’ on Tuesday night …

247Sports has the Las Vegas native as the nation’s No. 50 overall prospect.

With the departure of former quarterbacks Lorenzo Nunez and Brandon McIlwain, signing a top prospect is critical for the Gamecocks in 2018.

RELATED: Tuesday morning practice recap

Between Thompson-Robinson and North Charleston’s Dakereon Joyner, Carolina has high hopes of signing a talented dual-threat quarterback in 2018.

JBJ on SI

Former South Carolina OF Jackie Bradley Jr. has been all the rage in Boston over the past few seasons. Now, the national media has started to buy the hype …

JBJ is coming off a career year in which he hit 26 home runs and earned his first all-star nod.

Too Two Sweet 16s

South Carolina celebrated its men’s and women’s basketball teams with a Sweet 16 pep rally on Tuesday night. USC is one of four D1 schools represented in both Sweet 16s.

RELATED: South Carolina basketball Sweet 16 pep rally

USC president Harris Pastides, AD Ray Tanner, students and fans alike all showed up to Colonial Life Arena to catch a glimpse of their hardcourt heroes before they head off to their respective regional semifinals.

Duane Notice (L) and PJ Dozier couldn’t help but smile seeing Carolina fans show up in droves to celebrate their Sweet 16 trip.