Hello, bye: USF hoops earns Big East day off
Exciting news for USF men's basketball as the Bulls prepare for today's noon tipoff at home against Cincinnati: With Saturday's losses by Seton Hall and Connecticut, USF has clinched a first-round bye in Big East tournament and will be seeded no lower than seventh.
The Bulls (17-11, 10-5 in Big East) need probably two wins in their last three to be strongly considered for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth -- that's today at home against the Bearcats, Wednesday at Louisville and Saturday at home against West Virginia, which has dropped seven of its last nine.
The first-round bye means the Bulls will need only one win -- potentially a rematch with West Virginia -- to reach the tournament quarterfinals for the first time. USF has won opening-round games the last two years, but lost on Wednesday in the second round each time.
A win today against Cincinnati wouldn't be a top-50 win by some ratings, but it would be seen as a quality win for the Bulls and help their seeding in the Big East. Cincinnati has arguably three Big East wins stronger than USF's best win -- Georgetown, Louisville and Connecticut -- but the Bearcats also have bad losses, like at home against Presbyterian.
We'll be live-blogging throughout today's home game, starting at noon at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.