USF women get first-round Big East bye
A big win from USF's women's basketball team at Villanova, coupled with losses by Marquette and Georgetown, have given the Bulls a first-round bye in this weekend's Big East tournament in Hartford.
The Bulls, who opened 1-4 in the Big East, finished 8-8 to earn the eighth seed and a first-round bye, with Marquette and Georgetown finishing 7-9. This finish -- three straight wins for USF, three straight losses for Marquette -- solidifies USF's position on the NCAA bubble and badly damages Marquette's chances, but the two programs are likely to meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. in the second round of the tournament.
USF has already lost twice to Marquette, and a third loss to the same team might make it difficult for the NCAA to invite the Bulls and leave the Golden Eagles out. USF (21-9) has a much better record than Marquette (16-14), but Marquette has faced a tougher schedule. The Golden Eagles -- who face bottom-seeded Cincinnati in Friday's first round -- have lost three games to teams out of the RPI top 100 (including No. 250 Wisconsin-Milwaukee) while USF has no such losses.
A win Saturday against Marquette would likely clinch the Bulls' second-ever NCAA Tournament invitation.
If the Bulls can get past Marquette on Saturday, they'd face a much more challenging task Sunday: facing No. 1, undefeated and top-seeded Connecticut in its home state. If USF gets to that point, the Bulls' postseason should already be where they want it to be.