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CBI title would bode well for Bulls’ future

Teams that win the College Basketball Invitational generally flourish the following year
 
OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
USF coach Brian Gregory's team hosts DePaul tonight in Game 1 of the best-of-three College Basketball Invitational finals.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times USF coach Brian Gregory's team hosts DePaul tonight in Game 1 of the best-of-three College Basketball Invitational finals.
Published April 1, 2019|Updated April 1, 2019

TAMPA ― Following his team’s CBI semifinal triumph Thursday against Loyola Marymount, USF men’s coach Brian Gregory spoke about the Bulls’ participation in this pay-for-play tournament as an “investment” for the future.

Then to support his argument, he gave a nod to the past.

“We talk about building this thing,” said Gregory, whose team hosts DePaul tonight in Game 1 of the best-of-three CBI final (7 p.m., ESPNU). “And you look at the other programs that have played in this tournament and what they’ve done after. We’re trying to follow that same path.”

That path generally has led to more postseason play.

Seven of the previous 11 CBI champions have won 20 or more games the following year. Five have reached postseason play, including three that reached the NCAA Tournament.

The most glaring success story: Virginia Commonwealth, which won the 2010 CBI title, then reached the Final Four as a No. 11-seed in ’11.

The history stands to reason. Teams that reach the CBI final extend their season by more than two weeks, meaning another half-month of practice and competition. They also gain more experience in a tournament format, with only one off-day between finals games.

It’s especially beneficial to a program such as USF, playing in April for the first time ever. The Bulls’ normal rotation features only one senior (shooting guard T.J. Lang).

“The facts are, we weren’t good enough or experienced enough to go to the NCAA Tournament this year, or the NIT,” Gregory said.

“So this was our next-best option for us, and it was a great option. You have to continue to do the things necessary to build the program, and that’s exactly what our guys have embraced in this.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

Wait 'til next year

CBI champions generally have performed as well, if not better, the year after winning the title

2018: North Texas (20-18). Following season: 21-12 (no postseason)

2017: Wyoming (24-15). Following season: 20-13 (no postseason)

2016: Nevada (24-14). Following season: 28-7 (won Mountain West tourney, lost in NCAA first round)

2015: Loyola Chicago (24-13). Following season: 15-17

2014: Siena (21-18). Following season: 11-20

2013: Santa Clara (26-12). Following season: 14-19

2012: Pitt (22-17). Following season: 24-9 (lost in NCAA first round)

2011: Oregon (22-18). Following season: 26-10 (reached NIT quarterfinals)

2010: Virginia Commonwealth (27-9). Following season: 28-12 (made Final Four)

2009: Oregon State (18-18). Following season: 16-18

2008: Tulsa (27-14). Following season: 27-11 (reached NIT second round)