South Carolina entered the 2017 NCAA Tournament with zero all-time Final Four appearances. They had never even made the Elite Eight. The seventh-seeded Gamecocks ended both of those streaks with a remarkable run to the national semifinal.
In Arizona, they faced another first-time Final Four participant, Gonzaga, and while South Carolina fell by four points, it was still a tremendous run for a program with barely any glory moments to tout.
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Could we have another first-time Final Four participant — or two — in 2018? Here are five teams who could reach their first-ever ever Final Four this season.
Texas A&M has not only never made a Final Four, they've never advanced beyond the Sweet Sixteen, failing to win the regional semifinal in each of their four appearances (mostly recently 2016).
Missouri has reached the Elite Eight three times since the tourney expanded in 1985 but they've lost all three times, including most recently in 2009.
The Tigers beat Iowa State in the opener despite an early injury to the best freshman in the country, Michael Porter Jr., who is still sidelined. While it would be a long shot for Cuonzo Martin's young group to deliver the program's first-ever Final Four, they have enough talent to reach the dance and earn a top-seven seed. And if Porter and Co. get hot, look out.
Xavier made their third Elite Elite in 10 years last March but, like the previous two times (which were their only other Elite Eight appearance in program history), lost in the regional semifinal.
All-American candidate Trevon Bluiett highlights one of the most balanced rosters in the country, one that could reach San Antonio with the right matchups.
Still, the Wildcats returned their top five scorers, including Big Ten Player of the Year candidate (if a non-Miles Bridges candidate does exist) Bryant McIntosh. A year after reaching their first-ever tournament, the expectations should be a top-five seed. Seven five-seeds have made the Final Four.
A year after coming within minutes of their first national championship, Gonzaga is not even the best team in the WCC. Saint Mary's returned almost everyone, including one of the best guard-forward duos in the entire country in Jock Landale and Calvin Hermanson.
With a soft non-conference schedule and only the Bulldogs to worry about in conference play, Saint Mary's could enter the tournament with two or fewer losses, which should earn them a top-three seed.
The Gaels reached the Elite Eight in 1959 but there were only 23 teams in the field. They haven't been back since.