Forgive me if I’m not ready to buy into South Florida just yet.
Yes, after a 65-51 victory over Villanova — a game that wasn’t even that close for much of the second half — the Bulls are currently sitting at 9-4 in the Big East, guaranteed to finish above .500 in the Big East for the first time in a year that doesn’t involve Dominique Jones. That’s good enough for a tie for fourth in the league, meaning that there is an outside chance that South Florida — seriously, South Florida — could be one of the four teams that earns a double-bye in the Big East Tournament.
That would require something close to a miracle, however. Their final five games? At Pitt, at Syracuse, home for Cincinnati, at Louisville, home for West Virginia. The Bulls could very well finish the regular season off with five straight losses.
What’s more is that South Florida is still a long way from being on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Going 7-6 in non-conference play didn’t help that cause. Neither does the fact that they have lost to the four quality opponents they have played in the Big East this season.
South Florida’s best conference win? Seton Hall, who currently sits at an even 7-7 in league play and right on the NCAA Tournament’s cut line. In fact, the combined record in league play of the nine teams that South Florida has beaten is 31-81, and that includes two wins over Providence, two wins over Villanova, a win over DePaul, a win over St. John’s and a win over Rutgers.
Don’t get me wrong, Stan Heath has his team playing as well as they ever have in his tenure in Tampa. The fact that USF is even relevant in the conference race is an outstanding achievement.
But wait and see where this group stands after the next two weeks before you pencil them in for the NCAA Tournament.