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AAC tourney spot at stake as USF hosts Shockers

The Bulls are in danger of missing the conference tournament, to be held in Clearwater
USF senior Chris Chatfield (right) and the Bulls must win two of three this week against Wichita State to qualify for the American Athletic Conference tournament. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
USF senior Chris Chatfield (right) and the Bulls must win two of three this week against Wichita State to qualify for the American Athletic Conference tournament. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published May 15, 2019

Once again, the American Athletic Conference tournament is coming to USF's backyard.

Unless the Bulls take two of three at home from Wichita State this week, they’ll be observing it from their proverbial back porch.

The stakes for this series, starting Thursday at 7 at USF Baseball Stadium, are as plain as they are prodigious: The winner earns a spot in the eight-team AAC tourney, starting Tuesday at Spectrum Stadium in Clearwater.

The loser finishes ninth in the league (see the current standings here) and must endure an extra-long offseason.

USF (25-25, 7-14), decimated by injuries to its pitching staff, hasn’t failed to qualify for its postseason tournament since 2011, when it was in the Big East.

Related: Injury-maligned Bulls try to escape AAC basement

But the Bulls have won two of their last three AAC series, and are coming off an impressive effort at Connecticut (30-21, 10-11), getting consecutive quality starts from right-handers Collin Sullivan and Alec Wisely in a Saturday doubleheader sweep (by scores of 3-2 and 3-1) against the Huskies.

If the Bulls were to sweep the Shockers (23-28, 7-14), they conceivably could leapfrog UCF (31-19, 9-12) and Memphis (26-24, 9-11) for the tournament’s No. 6 seed.

Memphis is at East Carolina (39-12, 18-3) ― seventh in the latest Baseball America rankings ― this week. UCF hosts Houston (31-19, 11-10).

Contact Joey Knight at Follow him @TBTimes_Bulls.


  1. USF coach Brian Gregory's team (8-11, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) is on a four-game skid entering Sunday afternoon's contest at No. 25 Houston. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    In a conference teeming with parity, the notion of USF reaching the NCAA Tournament isn’t far-fetched.
  2. New USF offensive coordinator Glenn Spencer addresses players during the Bulls' first team meeting of 2020. [Joey Knight]
    The coaches each get a $10,000 bonus for a regular-season win against UCF.
  3. Jeff Scott takes over at USF in his first head coaching stint and if he instills a bit of Clemson swagger and culture, who's to argue with what works. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TImes]
    The Bulls’ new football coach is installing the cornerstones of the ultra-successful national championship program in Tampa.
  4. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, right, talks to members of the football team during a meeting at USF last week. Since then, Scott and his staff  have remained on the recruiting trail, landing six new non-binding commitments. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    New coach Jeff Scott has received six new commitments since Sunday.
  5. USF Bulls guard Laquincy Rideau (3) shoots a 3-pointer over Wichita State Shockers guard Dexter Dennis (0) during the first half at the Yuengling Center. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The Bulls shoot 30 percent from the floor in a 56-43 defeat at the Yuengling Center.
  6. Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall's club was ranked as high as 16th in the Associated Press poll earlier this month before losing two in a row last week. [MICHAEL PEREZ  |  AP]
    Both teams will try to break out of skids in tonight’s ‘Coaches vs. Cancer’ game at the Yuengling Center.
  7. Chamberlain offensive tackle Cesar Reyes said via Twitter on Sunday he plans to sign with USF. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Bulls fortify depth at quarterback and on the offensive line.
  8. USF sophomore Elisa Pinzan had seven 3-pointers Sunday in the Bulls' 64-57 loss to UCF at the Yuengling Center. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times] [Joey Knight]
    The Knights sweep a weekend of basketball against the Bulls.
  9. USF senior point guard Laquincy Rideau (3) drives in the first half of his team's 55-54 loss Saturday at UCF. [Photo provided by UCF Athletics] [UCF Athletics]
    The Bulls coach doesn’t hold back following his team’s controversial 55-54 loss in Orlando
  10. USF sophomore center Michael Durr faces a daunting challenge on Saturday night in Orlando against UCF 6-foot-11 veteran Collin Smith. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    The Bulls, who appear on the cusp of a breakthrough win, haven’t defeated the Knights since 2015.