Barring an upset of third-ranked Louisville in the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinals, USF's women's basketball team can count on a tense Selection Monday.
The Bulls (18-11, 13-5) clinched the AAC tournament's No. 3 seed and made their biggest statement of the year in Monday's 60-51 win at No. 24 Rutgers, but a 5-7 start won't enhance their NCAA resume.
Ideally for USF, the favorites prevail in other conference tournaments; the more unexpected champions in other tourneys, the fewer bracket spots remaining for bubble teams. A diligent selection committee also would help.
Those who truly study the Bulls will know a handful of key players were either slowed or sidelined by injuries during that 5-7 stretch. But since the new year dawned, USF's only losses have been two each to top-ranked Connecticut and Louisville.
No team — not even UConn — has scored 70 on USF in more than a month.
"I think there's not many teams playing the basketball we're playing at this time of year," said coach Jose Fernandez, whose team faces sixth-seeded Temple in the AAC quarterfinals at 8 p.m. Saturday.
"If (the committee members) do their homework and look at who played and who didn't play during that stretch, we wouldn't have the record we have right now, I'd like to think."
HOMECOMING: The Bulls will hold a public spring football workout at Bradenton's Manatee High — where coach Willie Taggart was an all-state quarterback — at 2:30 Saturday.
"Manatee is the most successful high school program in Florida," said Taggart, who guided the Hurricanes to the Class 5A state title in 1992 and 5A final in '93. "And I'm really looking forward to being back on that field and our team practicing in that winning environment."
Admission into Hawkins Stadium is free. No concession stands will be open, but fans will be permitted to bring in water.
The address is 1 Hurricane Lane, Bradenton, Fla., 34205.
OVERTAKEN: A record-setting three-day effort by USF's men's golf team wasn't enough to fend off FSU, which shot 24-under in Tuesday's final round to win the 54-hole USF Invitational by 10 strokes at Lake Jovita.
The runner-up Bulls' 833 team score was a program record for a three-day event. Their 19-under 269 team score Monday was an 18-hole mark, and their 26-under 550 after two days eclipsed the school's 36-hole record. Chase Koepka led USF with 10-under 206, tying for fifth.
BULL BITS: For the third consecutive week, Bulls LH ace Sara Nevins picked up the AAC's pitcher of the week award. Nevins won all three of her decisions at last weekend's USF Under Armour Invitational, striking out 23 and posting a 0.42 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. … Senior SS Kourtney Salvarola, who had nine hits, two home runs and six RBIs at the Under Armour tourney, was named the AAC's player of the week. … Former Hernando High ace Brandon Lawson, who allowed two hits and no earned runs in seven innings in Saturday's 13-5 win against Columbia, made the AAC's weekly baseball honor roll.