The big concern for the geeks and numbers-crunchers that analyze RPIs, strength-of-schedules and other statistics for teams vying for NCAA Tournament bids was that USF had not beaten any opponents of merit. To these critics (myself included), it would be like a high school team winning a state championship in Montana. It's just not saying much.
Despite the fact the raging Bulls are 18-11 and have 11 Big East wins, they are still on the outside of the bubble according to the scribes and the people with microphones in their faces for four hours at a clip. Coming into this glorious season, I would have been satisfied if the Bulls pulled out 11 wins total to this point.
In fact, esteemed ESPN basketball writer Andy Katz said the USF Bulls still have a ways to go despite their most recent victory against a fellow top-tier Big East team in Cincinnati. It is almost as if the only one supporting USF is coach Stan Heath himself.
Look, I still have my doubts about this team actually getting an invite. However, if they beat Louisville or even West Virginia, what else is there to prove?
This Bulls team is going to have to find a cure for cancer to get any respect nationally. In full disclosure, I'm not big on the "no one respects us" card, but in this situation, it is justly warranted.
The good news is the fans actually came out and supported the team on Sunday afternoon. Laugh all you want, but 6,784 announced attendance is superb by USF standards. Heck, I heard crickets at the last home game. On a side note, that seems to be a running theme for all Tampa Bay sporting events.
Getting back to USF, the big knock is the Bulls still do not have enough signature wins, whether it be in non-conference or conference play. From the top to the bottom of their schedule, they appear to have a grand total of two quality wins: Cleveland State and Cincinnati.
To me, the Seton Hall win at home could be labeled as hit or miss regarding whether it is a signature win or not. I mean, you don't brag to your friends that you bought a Hyundai.
When stacked up against the resumes of fellow bubble teams like the Northwestern Wildcats and the Miami Hurricanes, that will be a tough sell.
However, if the respected sportswriters are suggesting that nine Big East teams will make the dance, how in the world of Carmen Sandiego is USF not one of those righteous nine programs? Is DePaul going to get an invite before USF?
That thought of USF not being one of the noted nine is almost as mind-boggling to me as the Big East inviting Boise State and SMU to play football a few years from now (I'm guessing John Marinatto wasn't a geography major).
Really, all USF can focus on are these last two games that hold the future in balance. I'm sure Coach Heath is letting his players know to not focus on the enhanced media coverage and just focus on the process. It is a cliché to say, but it's the truth.
After USF's nail-biting win against the intimidating (for more reasons than one) Bearcats, I am a believer in this team. There is really no question the Bulls are an NCAA Tournament-caliber squad.
Whether they actually get into the tournament is a question that remains to be answered.