Frank Martin has done a great job of making South Carolina’s basketball program respectable again capped, of course, by leading the Gamecocks to the Final Four two seasons ago. Heading into the 2018 season, Martin believes his team faces the toughest schedule his seen since his arrival in Columbia — and that’s the way he likes it.

During a recent appearance on the March Madness 365 Podcast, hosted by the NCAA’s Andy Katz, Martin spoke about the mission of improving South Carolina one step at a time. While fans deservedly got excited over the program’s trip to the Final Four, Martin believes that’s an unrealistic goal to set on an annual basis.

While he gave that candid response, Martin also commented that his program faces an incredible schedule in the coming season. Interestingly enough, Martin wasn’t using that as an excuse but claimed that’s the way he wants it.

“It’s probably the hardest schedule I’ve ever played in my time here. We have a couple ACC opponents, we got Michigan at Michigan. We play Providence up at the Mohegan Sun. There is a chance we play Michigan twice. I’m pretty sure we’re away in the Big-12/SEC Challenge,” Martin said on the podcast.

“The schedule next year is going to be extremely challenging, but that’s okay. I’ve always believed in playing hard games. It’s the way it needs to be. It sounds good in June talking to you, but once you get to November it doesn’t feel too good.”

The Gamecocks finished 17-16 overall last season and 7-11 in an improved SEC last season.