USF women on outside of NCAA bubble?
I'll preface anything here by politely pointing out that it's December, so any kind of projections for which teams make the NCAA Tournament are looking very, very far ahead.
Having said that, ESPN.com's Bracketology guru, Charlie Creme, is already starting to offer up drafts of how the NCAA's field of 64 women's teams might look. The bad news? The Bulls, despite a 9-2 start, aren't even in that conversation right now.
Creme's only giving the Big East six NCAA teams right now -- Connecticut and Rutgers are No. 1 seeds, followed by DePaul (4), West Virginia (5), Notre Dame (6) and Pittsburgh (10). He goes so far as to name the first four teams to miss the cut, the next four, and then another 10 teams in consideration. Four more Big East teams -- Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse and Marquette -- are mentioned in there, but not USF.
Why? First, the Bulls don't have anything close to a quality win yet. CollegeRPI.com has USF ranked 45th, which would be right on the NCAA bubble, but the Bulls have yet to beat a team ranked higher than 102nd (Florida A&M). Their only two losses are to Duke (11) and Illinois State (43), nothing shameful there at all.
My read of this is not that the Bulls are bad; they're simply unproven. Right now their Big East schedule would include 12 games against teams in the RPI top 100, and splitting those 12 and winning five of the six remaining games would give the Bulls an 11-7 record in Big East play and at least 20 wins. What'd be huge for the Bulls would be somehow getting a win at Vanderbilt on Jan. 2, or at least opening the Big East season with a home win against West Virginia. Either of those would give the Bulls a top-50 win, something to validate their record and get them votes in the national top 25s.
While I'm posting, I'll throw a link up to a story in Friday's Times about senior cornerback Ryan Gilliam, who has been mentored by Lee Roy Selmon and already has a job lined up in the financial world, where he's spent two days a week working even during football season.
And yes, I like the idea of a "Best of 2007" post before the end of the year. I'll have more time once I'm out in El Paso on Dec. 27. Keep up your nominations but try to be nice ...