USF men's hoops to play in Las Vegas tournament
USF men's basketball will play in the Las Vegas Classic next season on Dec. 22-23, playing two games at Orleans Arena after hosting two games against Florida Gulf Coast and Florida A&M in the Sun Dome as part of the event, promoter Chris Spencer said Friday.
USF's exact opponents in Las Vegas haven't been announced, but the Bulls will play two games against UNLV, Mississippi State or Santa Clara, the other three "host" schools in the event. UNLV has a strong team this year, with a 24-8 record and an RPI rating of 22, and Santa Clara has a 21-11 record with an RPI of 102. Mississippi State struggled to a 10-22 record and finished next-to-last in the SEC standings. Florida Gulf Coast could be tough for the Bulls as well -- the Eagles are 24-10 this season and beat Miami in November.
The tournament accounts for four of USF's nonconference games in 2013-14 -- the Bulls played 12 nonconference games in 2012-13, and would likely play an 18-game conference schedule in their new conference, just as they did in the Big East this season. The tournament format is the same as what USF played in 2011-12 in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tournament -- the Bulls won home games against Vermont and Marist that year, then lost in Connecticut to Old Dominion and Penn State.