TAMPA — Had USF's players and coaches been less confident in their NCAA tournament resume, Monday's selection show might have induced fidgeting, perhaps even frustration.
But with a 41-win season, road victories against FSU and Florida and a top-25 RPI, the Bulls remained mostly unflappable until the very last bracket — finally featuring their name — was revealed.
USF (41-17), seeded second in the Gainesville region, opens play against No. 3 Bethune-Cookman (33-23) at 1 p.m. Friday at the University of Florida's McKethan Stadium. The Gators (42-16), seeded third nationally, face Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tourney champ Marist (32-21) in Friday's other region opener at 7.
"If we didn't know how the process worked as well as we do, knowing how important the RPI was and knowing how good a shape … all of our metrics were, it would've been nerve-wracking," said Bulls coach Mark Kingston, who has led USF to the NCAA tournament in two of his three seasons.
FSU (39-20), a bubble team earlier in the month, earned one of the tournament's 16 host sites via an improbable late-season surge.
The Seminoles won twice at then-No. 2 Louisville and topped the Cardinals again — in Louisville — en route to the ACC Tournament title.
UCF (40-20), the American Athletic Conference regular season co-champ, is the No. 2 seed in Tallahassee.
Miami (31-27) didn't make the 64-team field, snapping a record streak of 44 NCAA berths. The Hurricanes were the first team out, the NCAA said, which did nothing to soften the blow for a team that went to the College World Series in each of the past two years.
"Needless to say, I'm disappointed," Hurricanes coach Jim Morris said. "I thought we had a chance. I thought we were in until yesterday when we had all the upsets (in conference tournaments). I'm looking at all the scores and knew the more upsets, the less chance for an at-large."
Oregon State earned the No. 1 national seed after going 49-4 and setting a Pac-12 record with 27 conference wins.
LACROSSE: Dylan Maltz had two goals and an assist and top-seeded Maryland (16-3) beat Ohio State 9-6 in the NCAA men's championship in Foxborough, Mass., ending the Terrapins' 42-year title drought.
TENNIS: Brienne Minor gave Michigan its first NCAA women's title by defeating Florida's Belinda Woolcock 6-3, 6-3 in Athens, Ga. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski took Virginia to its second men's singles title in three years, beating William Blumberg from North Carolina 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.