USF women's basketball will head back to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-consecutive year, but also feeling slighted by the NCAA Selection Committee that kept them from hosting the first two rounds in Tampa.
The Bulls were selected as a #6 seed for the third time in four seasons despite being #14 in the RPI used to measure the strength of schedule, with the top 16 teams selected to host the first two rounds. "Well it looks like the tournament, for one reason or another, is becoming regionalized. I think you're only hurting the student-athletes by doing that," said Bulls head coach Jose Fernandez. "An RPI of 14, and we went out and played people in November and December. I think our team is a lot better than that."
USF finished the season 26-7, with four of those losses coming to the top two teams in America: three to American Conference champion and winner of four of the last five national championships Connecticut, and a 10-point loss to Notre Dame in New Orleans earlier this season. They blew out Big Ten champion and RPI #6 Ohio State by 19 points just a month ago, and had six wins against the Top 50 teams. But not only do they end up as the #6 in the Albany Region, they'll also face UConn for a fourth time this year if both teams make it to the Elite Eight. The Huskies are 184-2 over the last five seasons, and 101-0 all-time in American Conference play.
The green and gold will head to Tallahassee to take on #11 Buffalo of the Mid-American Conference Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The winner of that game will face the winner of #3 Florida State and #14 Arkansas Little-Rock on Monday evening. Last season as an #11 seed, also in Tallahassee, the Bulls dropped a heart breaker via a tip-in buzzer-beater at the final horn against Missouri in the opening round.
They'll have plenty to prove, to themselves and the NCAA Selection Committee, this weekend upon their return.
Photo courtesy of GoUSFBulls.com