USF men's soccer faces key final weekend
We'll have more shortly on USF women's soccer, which plays host to Louisville on Sunday in the Big East conference tournament quarterfinals, but first we'll address a pivotal final weekend for USF men's soccer.
The Bulls (8-4-4) have been ranked as high as No. 2 in the country during this season, but a bad stretch of three ties and two losses in conference play has USF fighting just to get a spot in the conference tournament. Only the top five teams in each division make the field, and USF sits in sixth out of seven teams entering the final weekend, though the Bulls can play their way into the tournament.
The Bulls (2-2-3 in Big East) finish Friday afternoon at DePaul (0-6-1), and a win there would guarantee the Bulls a tournament berth, moving them ahead of fifth-place Rutgers, which has finished its regular season. The results of two other games could push the Bulls to fourth -- which would let USF host a first-round tournament game -- or even third, which would give the Bulls an opening-round bye.
USF's RPI rating is 21, which still puts them in strong position for an NCAA at-large berth, but the Bulls can help themselves a lot by making the conference tournament and making a splash there. Cincinnati and St. John's are ahead of USF in the division standings, but they finish the regular season at home against the division's top two teams, Louisville and Syracuse, and would each need wins to stay ahead of USF in the standings with a Bulls win.
There's a good national respect for the Big East this season, with five teams in the RPI top 11 in Connecticut (2), Notre Dame (4), Georgetown (6), Louisville (8) and Marquette (11). The Bulls have only faced one of those five teams, losing 2-1 to Louisville, but the conference tournament would give them a chance to pick up a validating win against a top-tier program.
We'll have more on USF's women's team, as well as Bulls volleyball trying to get into its conference tournament, later tonight or Friday.