USF women projected for NCAAs, but no lock
Another set of NCAA Tournament projections has USF's women's basketball team making the cut, but a loss in Saturday's second round of the Big East tournament could throw the Bulls back on the bubble, left to the whim of which teams win in smaller conferences.
Jerry Palm, who runs NCAA projections at CollegeRPI.com, has USF as a No. 10 seed in his latest model -- playing Purdue in Lubbock, Texas, in the opening round -- and while USF isn't among his "last four" to make the cut, he said Wednesday that the Bulls should see Saturday as a game they need to clinch an NCAA trip.
"That's probably a must-win game for South Florida," Palm said. "If they lost there, they'd probably be in some trouble."
Marquette (16-14), USF's likely opponent, has beaten the Bulls twice and has a comparable RPI, but Palm said the Golden Eagles aren't likely to make the NCAA field unless they make a big run in the Big East tournament, a difficult thing since they would face No. 1 Connecticut in Sunday's quarterfinals.
ESPN.com hasn't updated its projections since USF got a big road win at Villanova on Monday night, but analyst Charlie Creme had the Bulls as a No. 12 seed and one of the last four teams to make the field, with Marquette as one of the first four out. (Marquette has since lost a third straight game).
Here's a link to this week's USF notes from Wednesday's paper, which look at how this postseason could impact Jose Fernandez's future with the Bulls, as well as more about new USF receivers coach Phil McGeoghan and how softball has opened with a 13-9 record.
-- The first day of next week's Big East men's basketball tournament in New York will not be televised, though Bulls fans can watch USF's first-ever Big East tournament game Tuesday at 9 p.m. for free on the conference's official site. Of course, we'll be blogging live from Madison Square Garden ...