Upset creates easier path for USF women
Much of the buildup for USF's women's basketball team in this weekend's Big East tournament was the anticipated challenge of the Bulls trying to beat a ninth-seeded Marquette team that had beaten them twice this season.
Consider that solved.
On the first day of the first tournament in which all 16 Big East schools played in the league event, 16th-seeded Cincinnati knocked off Marquette in overtime, effectively removing the Golden Eagles from NCAA consideration and giving the Bulls a much easier opponent for tonight's second-round game.
The Bulls now face a 14-16 Cincinnati team, albeit one that lost to USF by just six points in Tampa. If anything, a loss might be more damaging for the Bulls, since Cincinnati (at 97) would be the lowest-RPI team to beat USF this season. Oh, and that easier path only extends so far -- win Saturday, and there's still a meeting with No. 1 Connecticut on Sunday.
Want another crazy upset? Tenth-seeded Georgetown, also on the NCAA bubble just two weeks ago, lost to 15th-seeded Seton Hall -- by 25 points no less. So scratch the Hoyas off your NCAA list as well -- as long as the Big East gets eight teams in the NCAA, USF should be in the field. Again, a win Saturday should remove any doubt for the Bulls.
Add in a win for 13th-seeded St. John's against 12th-seeded Syracuse, and three of the four teams who wouldn't have made the tournament a year ago have survived the opening round.
-- Who will USF's men's team play Tuesday? Notre Dame's win Friday against St. John's means it won't be the Fighting Irish, but three teams are still possibilities.
Seton Hall plays at Cincinnati at noon, and if the Pirates can get the upset, they would be the No. 11 seed and play the Bulls. If Cincy pulls the upset, USF's opponent hinges on the 5 p.m. Georgetown-DePaul game, and remember that DePaul is 0-17 in Big East play. If Cincy wins and Georgetown wins as expected at home, then USF would face Georgetown. If DePaul pulls the upset -- you laugh, but three years ago, an 0-15 USF team finished the season by beating Georgetown -- then USF would face St. John's on Tuesday.
(And since you'd probably ask in the comments, here's the reason St. John's would get the tiebreaker over Seton Hall and Georgetown if all three finished 6-12. Georgetown lost to both the other two, so the Hoyas are eliminated from the tiebreaker. Seton Hall and St. John's split their two meetings, so the next tiebreaker asks which team beat the highest-seeded team in the league: St. John's beat Notre Dame, seeded 10th, while Seton Hall's highest-seeded win would be against St. John's, seeded 11th. Whew.)
-- Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly tells the Cincinnati Enquirer he likes the idea of going up against his old defensive coordinator, Joe Tresey, when USF plays host to the Bearcats this fall.
"I know what to expect,” Kelly told the Enquirer. "I know what Joe’s going to do. Sometimes you go into a situation where you have no idea what that coordinator is going to do."