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Bulls get little love from bracketologists

USF point guard Shalethia Stringfield helped lead the Bulls to a halftime lead Monday against No. 1 Connecticut.

AP photo

USF point guard Shalethia Stringfield helped lead the Bulls to a halftime lead Monday against No. 1 Connecticut.



Evidently, the USF women's gritty effort Monday night at Connecticut, when they became the first team in nearly a year to lead the Huskies at halftime, did little to nudge the figurative needle.

In the eyes of bracketologists, the Bulls -- unquestionably the second-best team in their conference -- still don't warrant a favorable NCAA Tournament seeding.

Roughly 14 hours after their 79-59 loss at UConn, when they used only six players and were missing 3-point specialist Kitija Laksa (ankle), ESPN women's bracketologist Charlie Creme pegged the 20th-ranked Bulls (21-7, 14-4 American Athletic Conference) as a dreaded 8-seed in the Lexington, Ky., region.

Not that the projections were much brighter before the game. On Sunday, a day after the Bulls clinched the AAC tournament's No. 2 seed with a convincing 76-62 triumph against Temple, had USF as a 7-seed opening play in Waco, Texas. Only collegesportsmadness had the Bulls at a seed (sixth) their fans might deem favorable.

So what criteria are the forecasters considering? Certainly not the words of Geno Auriemma, who continued lauding USF during Monday's postgame proceedings.

"I think Temple is close, but right now South Florida and us are the two that at this time, are at a little bit different level than the rest of the league," UConn's Hall of Fame coach said. "(Bulls coach Jose Fernandez) is a great coach, does a great job."

More than likely, USF's 0-5 record against ranked teams -- with only one of those losses by single digits -- is tainting its resume. Moreover, the Bulls are 2-5 against top-50 RPI squads.

Whether their collective health is promoting or hindering their case is unclear. The Bulls haven't taken the court with a totally healthy team since Jan. 5, but are 13-5 since then.

Fortunately for Fernandez's club, the upcoming postseason schedule should afford it extended rest. USF, off the next two days, doesn't open American Athletic Conference Tournament play until Saturday, with the final slated for Monday. A layoff of up to 12 days follows.

Selection Monday is March 14.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 3:02pm]


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