Women's update, plus ex-Bulls in NCAAs
Already, USF's women's basketball team has waited more than a week since their last game, but the Bulls now have less than a day before they find out if they'll play in the NCAA Tournament.
We told you there were three games Sunday with relevance to USF's hopes of getting an at-large berth, and things were complicated slightly by Bowling Green losing to Ball State in the Mid-American final. Bowling Green's 28 wins and comparable RPI make them another consideration for an at-large berth, but USF can be relieved that Stanford won the Pac-10 easily, and Wisconsin-Green Bay won its conference as well.
I talked Sunday night with the two national analysts who project the NCAA women's field -- ESPN.com's Charlie Creme said he still had USF as the very last team making the NCAA cut. Had Stanford lost and USC gotten the Pac-10's automatic bid, for instance, he said it would have pushed USF out. Jerry Palm, who runs CollegeRPI.com, had a busy day with the men's field being announced, but said he saw nothing to suggest USF wouldn't make the cut, even with a few upsets in the last 48 hours.
Is Bowling Green a problem? The two experts don't seem to think so -- a 28-4 record seems NCAA-worthy, but the Falcons are 0-1 against top 50 teams (they lost to Temple) and haven't beaten a team rated higher than No. 57 Ball State, which just beat them in a far more important game. Two of their four losses are to teams out of the RPI top 100 -- Valparaiso (146) and Miami of Ohio (151). Unless the selection committee is wowed by a great record amassed against teams under the elite level's radar, the Bulls shouldn't be out at Bowling Green's expense.
We'll have all the updates Monday night as the field is announced -- if and when and where the Bulls are playing, and the implications of USF's women reaching the NCAAs for only the second time in their history.
-- You probably know about Brad Greenberg's Radford team making the NCAA Tournament, but there are three links to USF basketball in the East regional alone.
Binghamton, making its NCAA debut, has former Bulls assistant coach Julius Allen on its staff -- it was Allen, by the way, who placed USF recruit Jarrid Famous at Westchester Community College two years ago, which is notable in small-world kind of way. Wait, there's more: Former Bulls signee Teeng Akol, who took summer classes at USF last summer before academic issues brought his release, is in the NCAAs as a reserve with Oklahoma State. Akol has played in only five games this season, scoring two points. And digging farther back, former Bulls center Frane Markusovic is now a senior at American University, averaging 1.9 points off the bench.
Oh, and North Dakota State's run to the Summit League championship and the NCAAs started with a tournament win against Centenary College, which is coached by former USF assistant Greg Gary. Gary went 8-23 in his first season, but his team overcame a 20-point deficit to lead NDSU with four minutes to play in that game, which they wound up losing by six.