The 2012-13 college basketball season is winding down … mercifully, if you’re a fan of the Palmetto State’s two most widely followed men’s hoops programs.

The University of South Carolina and Clemson University both suffered through disastrous seasons – finishing with a combined record of 27-34. For the Gamecocks, this substandard performance was expected. It’s new head coach Frank Martin’s first year in town, and fans are going to cut him some slack as he builds his program.

Of course that doesn’t necessarily remove all of the sting following USC’s 14-17 finish (and 4-14 record against SEC opponents).

Ouch …

For Clemson, head coach Brad Brownell’s third team was supposed to fare much better than they did – especially given the relative weakness of the Atlantic Coast Conference this season. But the wheels fell off for the Tigers, who lost nine of their last ten games en route to a 13-17 finish (and a 5-13 mark in ACC play).

Weak …

In fact after posting a 22-12 mark (including a first round NCAA tournament win) in his inaugural season two years ago, Brownell’s fortunes have declined in each of the past two seasons – a trajectory eerily reminiscent to that of former USC head coach Darrin Horn.

Anyway, the Tigers and Gamecocks get one last chance to redeem themselves this weekend as conference tournament play gets underway.

USC is the 12th seed in the SEC and will face 13th seed Mississippi State (9-21, 4-14 SEC) at 7:30 p.m. EDT on March 13 in Nashville, Tennessee. If they win, the Gamecocks would go up against the fifth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers the following day.

Meanwhile Clemson – the 11th seed in the ACC – has drawn sixth-seeded Florida State in the first round of the ACC tournament, a game which will tip off at 9:00 p.m. EDT on March 14 in Greensboro, N.C. If they win, they’ll go up against third-seeded North Carolina the next day.

While first round victories in their respective conference tournaments aren’t out of the question, don’t expect either USC or Clemson to advance beyond that … putting the coda on a pair of forgettable campaigns.


Pic: Travis Bell Photography