COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Fans who made their way to The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium Monday afternoon were on hand to see exactly where the South Carolina Gamecocks would play their first NCAA Tournament game this year.
The decision was supposed to be revealed at 7 p.m., but USC fans didn’t have to wait long to get the official word on the team’s position and opponent on the bracket. The women’s tournament bracket was unveiled on ESPNU hours ahead of the Selection Monday show. Shortly after the bracket aired, screenshots made the rounds on social media.
Even Dawn Staley received word about the leaked bracket before it was officially revealed.
“I actually was in my office,” Staley said, “and I got a few text messages well before it hit social media. So I was like, ‘Oh, let’s see if this is valid.’ Then, we started calling around and we started looking at social media and some reliable sources were saying that this is the bracket. So, I immediately called Hudson to get as much film on Belmont, Bucknell, and Florida State.”
For many of the fans in attendance at Monday’s FAMdemonium event, the thrill of the Gamecocks making the tournament was subdued by the accidental leak by ESPN.
“I was disappointed,” said Frances Parker. “I think the suspense and being with our team when they’re listening and seeing where they’re actually going. It’s part of their season and I’m really disappointed that that leak occurred on ESPN.”
For some fans, the blunder meant very little. In fact, it didn’t have much of an impact for a few in attendance.
“Heck no,” said Louise Foster. “The same results came out. They’re just a couple hours later. That’s all. When we were here, that’s when we saw it on the TV and it’s the way it is. If it came out four hours earlier or later, it doesn’t matter. It is what it is. They’re still playing.”
ESPN and the NCAA each released statements regarding the mishap Monday afternoon.
Despite the unintentional early release, fans are still excited about cheering on the Gamecocks when they host first and second round games in Charlotte this weekend.
“I would drive to Albany, N.Y., if they were playing up there,” said Louise Foster. “So, Charlotte is a drop in the hat. My husband and I both would go anywhere we could to watch them play and wish them luck.”
No. 4 South Carolina will face No. 13 Belmont on Friday at 1:45 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN.