- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Wofford coach Mike Young was disappointed his Terriers weren’t part of the NCAA tournament the past two seasons. He was also bothered he had no other teams from South Carolina to pull for in those events.

“It hurts,” Young said. “Especially when you know how good the competition is among state teams.”

College basketball fans again get to see for themselves as the Palmetto State’s drought ended with Big South champions Coastal Carolina and Southern Conference winners Wofford locked into the field of 68.

For Wofford, it’s the third time in five seasons they won the SoCon tournament and played in the NCAAs while Coastal is making its first tournament trip since 1993.

Chanticleers coach Cliff Ellis became the 10th coach to bring four schools to the NCAA tournament. He had gone eight times previously, two with South Carolina, three with Clemson and three with Auburn.

“Hopefully, my experience will come through and that we can match up, go out and show what we are made of,” Ellis said.

The two-year drought in 2012 and 2013 followed a 16-year run where at least one of the state’s 12 Division I basketball programs reached the NCAA tournament. South Carolina, one of the nation’s smallest states, was among 13 states without NCAA tournament teams during that span.

That made for two months of March without much madness for several state fans.

“People look forward to this all year,” Young said. “It’s nice to give them something to follow.”

Both the Chanticleers and Terriers await Sunday’s NCAA selections, likely to see themselves given difficult draws for the upcoming event.

The Terriers were seeded 13th in 2010 and 14th in 2011, keeping things close both times before falling to Wisconsin (53-49) four years ago and Jimmer Fredette-led BYU (74-66) a season later.

This year’s Wofford squad led the 11-team Southern Conference in fewest points allowed and least turnovers.

Young thinks the Terriers (20-12) are worth a 15th seed - they went 11-5 in the Southern Conference after opening the season 3-7 - but understands if they get matched against a No. 1 seed like Florida or Wichita State, or slotted in the First Four round of games.

“We’ll be ready for whoever we play,” he said.

Coastal Carolina (21-12) also started slowly at 2-5 before rallying. The Chanticleers won 14 of their final 18 games for their first league title and NCAA trip in 21 years. That Big South crown was later vacated because of NCAA violations.

Ellis says his players don’t care where they’re placed - the team is a popular pick among NCAA backetologists for the first-round games at Dayton, Ohio, starting Tuesday - and only want to prove they can play with any team.

Young believes there’s several other state teams who’ll get that chance in the NCAA in upcoming years.

“The health of basketball teams in this state is strong,” Young said. “There are many teams like us, who won’t back away from anyone” to get to the NCAA tournament.



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