We did this same research two years ago when USF went from 4-14 in the Big East to 9-9, and the Bulls are taking a huge stride forward in conference play again this season, going from a 3-15 Big East mark to their current 6-3 record.
Checking the standings from last year and this, USF has the biggest improvement in confererence record of any team in the "Power 6" conferences -- ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12 and SEC -- with already three more league wins than they finished with in 2010-11. The only other teams in those conferences to already improve by more than one win are Iowa State and Indiana, which now have five wins after just three last season.
The only other Big East team with more conference wins now than they finished with last season is DePaul, which had one last season and now has two.
The biggest conference improvements in all of Division I college basketball? Six teams have bigger jumps than USF -- Georgia Southern is up six wins in the Southern, Manhattan is up five in the MAAC, Southern is up four in the SWAC, Youngstown up four in the Horizon, Western Illinois up four in the Summit and Loyola Marymount up four in the West Coast. Oh, and USC-Upstate has matched USF's plus-three in Atlantic Sun.
So USF needs only two more wins to match the plus-five jump they made in 2009-10 -- seems easy with nine games left, but the Bulls have a slightly tougher second half to the Big East season. The Bulls' nine opponents so far are a combined 34-46 in conference play, while the remaining nine are a combined 40-46 (and Pittsburgh seems tougher than its 3-7 record). None of USF's six wins are against teams with a winning record currently in Big East play, and only four of the remaining nine games are against teams that don't have winning Big East records right now.
Posted by Greg Auman at 10:54:00 pm on January 29, 2012