Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NCAA Tournament: USF women puzzled by 11 seed

Maria Jespersen and the Bulls do at least get to stay close to home, with their first-round game in Tallahassee.

Hartford Courant

Maria Jespersen and the Bulls do at least get to stay close to home, with their first-round game in Tallahassee.

TAMPA — Veteran USF women's coach Jose Fernandez has fidgeted through too many NCAA Tournament selection shows to let anything surprise him anymore.

But he's still not immune to being puzzled or perplexed. And when he saw his school's name pop up Monday night — as a No. 11 seed in the Stockton, Calif., bracket — Fernandez found himself baffled all over again.

"If we were an 11 seed, that means we were one of the last teams in this tournament," said Fernandez, whose club (24-8) faces sixth-seeded Missouri (21-10) at 5 p.m. Friday in Tallahassee. "I find that very hard to believe."

In a sense, that bewilderment testified to the evolution of USF's program, which will make its third consecutive NCAA appearance and fifth overall. A half-decade ago, USF on any bracket would've elicited delirium.

But Monday, the roughly 150 fans and school officials who convened inside a Sun Dome lounge area — and who have grown accustomed to NCAA berths — responded with an ovation a bit more reserved than raucous.

"This is the expectation for us," Fernandez said.

What wasn't expected was the bracket line on which they found themselves.

American Athletic Conference rival Temple, which owns a top-20 RPI but lost two of three to USF (including the AAC tournament semifinals), drew a seven seed in the Bridgeport, Conn., region. How did that happen?

"No idea," Fernandez said.

But he has a theory: The selection committee devoted too much emphasis on geography at the expense of seeding. For example, all four tournament teams from Florida remain in the state for the opening weekend.

"These selections look really regionalized-based," Fernandez said, "and that's not how this tournament should go."

Selection committee chairperson Terry Gawlik cited another consideration: positioning teams so that conference foes don't face each other in the early rounds.

"We want to make sure we do everything possible to look at those and make the bracket work," Gawlik said.

Joining USF in the Stockton Region is No. 3 seed (and opening-weekend site host) FSU, fourth-seeded (and site host) Miami (23-8) and 13th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast (26-8). Should the Bulls get past Missouri, a Sunday matchup against the 10th-ranked Seminoles (25-6) likely awaits.

The Bulls are 12-22 all-time against FSU, but have only one victory in the series since 1980.

"Hey, we're really excited," Fernandez said. "It's an opportunity for our fans to come see us in Tallahassee. We're playing a very, very good Missouri team to get to that second game."

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

NCAA Tournament: USF women puzzled by 11 seed 03/13/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 12:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    The 10 strikeouts look flashy, but RHP Chris Archer was not his sharpest Thursday. He allowed three runs on seven hits, including three straight in the two-run second and a Gary Sanchez homer in the third, and lasted only six innings, throwing 102 pitches.

  2. Rays fall to Yankees in 11 on Brett Gardner homer (w/ video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The front office did its part Thursday, making two trades to bolster the roster in a push for the playoffs. But the Rays didn't follow up in a frustrating 6-5 11-inning loss to the Yankees.

    Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge stands on the mound and can only watch as the Yankees’ Brett Gardner starts to circle the bases after his walkoff home run leading off the 11th inning.
  3. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays better.

    Lucas Duda
  4. Bucs' direction is decidedly up for first time in several years


    TAMPA — If you want to see a team give the Heisman Trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Tight end O.J. Howard, left, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, was brought in to give QB Jameis Winston another big-play option.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Friday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.