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When Four Is Fantastic

After Wednesday's great win over St. John's, our new team member infield infidel said something that caught my interest:

Remember when four conference wins meant a good year?

To which my initial reaction was "Yeah: when the football team was 0-3."

But that got me thinking: when was four conference wins not a good year for USF basketball? The program has been so unsuccessful for so long that I can hardly remember when that wasn't the case. I can hardly remember a day when we dared dream of even mediocrity.

Put in the form of a trivia question: In its history, how many times has USF basketball won four or more games in regular season conference play?

This is USF's 36th season of conference basketball. How many of USF's conference seasons, from the Sun Belt in 1976-77 to the Big East in 2011-12, do you think ended with USF having four or more conference wins? (Include the current season in your guess.)

And just to show it's not a trick question. I'll give you two more: in 1979 and 1982, USF won 4 or more games in a 10-game Sun Belt schedule.

Formulate your guess and I'll reveal the answer after the jump, along with other tidbits from USF basketball history that you're probably better off not knowing.

Our source for all the below information is the History page at Never before have so many years of unwatchable mediocrity been so thoroughly documented. Except at the King of the Hill wiki.

Anyway, back to the question: In 36 seasons, how many times has USF basketball won four or more games in regular season conference play?

The answer is... 21, or about 58% of the time. Which means USF failed to win even four conference games a whopping 42% of the time.

So if USF basketball doesn't win another game this season, the 2011-12 season is already in the 43rd percentile in one success metric. (Some schools run NCAA scenarios. We run how-good-a-year-was-it-if-we-don't-win-another-game scenarios.)

I have compiled some other interesting facts about USF basketball's non-interesting history in conference play. You can stop reading whenever you've had enough:

  • The average number of conference wins in a USF basketball season (through 2010-11) is 4.83. Which is a little misleading, because the number of conference games has varied from 10 to 18.
  • USF's average winning percentage in conference play is .341, or about 6-12 over an 18-game season.
  • USF has had 22 losing seasons in conference play, 8 winning seasons, and five .500 seasons.
  • Of the 8 winning seasons, 6 of them were one game over .500. The others were two games over .500: 9-5 Sun Belt marks in 1984 and 1990.
  • 6 of USF's 8 winning conference seasons came as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, an affiliation that ended in 1991.
  • USF has had only 4 winning conference seasons since 1984, and only one since 1992.
  • That one winning conference season was 2000-01, in Conference USA. And that was a criminal underachievement. If you've got a strong stomach, click here to see USF's roster, and click here to see how weak C-USA was that year. Yes, we really did have all those players on the team at the same time. And pretty much the next season, too. I haven't seen that many talented people combine to produce something so terrible since The Wiz.
  • The most conference games USF has ever won is 9, which they have done 4 times: 1984 (Charlie Bradley's heyday), 1990 (USF's one and only conference tournament championship), 2001 (see previous item), and 2010 (the age of Dominique Jones, which was far too brief).
  • USF has never gone winless in league play. They came close in 2006, the first Big East season, needing a last-game win over a ranked Georgetown team.
  • USF has only had three one-win conference seasons: 1980, 2003 (Robert McCullum's first season), and 2006 (Robert McCullum's last season).
  • Conference records by league:
    • Sun Belt: 75-113 (.399)
    • Conference USA: 55-101 (.352)
    • Metro: 16-32 (.333)
    • Big East: 27-83 (.245) NOTE: includes 4-2 so far this season
  • Conference records by coach:
    • Lee Rose 39-39 (.500)
    • Seth Greenberg 47-63 (.427)
    • Bobby Paschal 43-89 (.326)
    • Stan Heath 24-54 (.308) NOTE: includes 4-2 so far this season
    • Chip Conner 11-29 (.275) - NOTE: Conner's coaching stint started before USF joined a conference
    • Robert McCullum 10-54 (.156)
  • Teams USF has a winning record against all time in conference play: Georgia State (8-4); Houston (10-8), whom it's great to have joining the Big East; and Charlotte/UNC Charlotte/UNC-Charlotte/kissy face Diego Guevara/weird Star Trek uniforms (28-24).
  • Teams USF is .500 against all time in conference play: Jacksonville (18-18), Rutgers (5-5), Virginia Tech (4-4) and TCU (3-3). (EDITED TO ADD: after Sunday's win at DePaul, USF is now 11-11 all time against the Blue Demons in conference play.)
  • USF has losing records against the 25 24 other teams it has been in a conference with. How many of them can you name?
  • Team USF has never beaten in conference play: West Virginia (0-7). St. John's, too, until last week.
  • USF's all time record in conference tournament games is 17-30, or .362 -- slightly better than their .341 all-time mark in regular season conference play. Clearly, we get up for the big games.
  • USF's all time record in conference tournament championship games is 1-2 -- all in the Sun Belt, and none since the 1990 NCAA Tournament season.
  • USF's two losses in conference championship games came to teams USF had swept home-and-away in the regular season: Jacksonville in 1979 and UAB in 1983. Which goes to show that even when USF does win conference games, they don't win the right ones.
  • And check those years again... 1979 and 1983. USF was one win away from being in two of the most awesome NCAA Tournaments in history: the Bird vs. Magic showdown that transformed an entire sport, and the N.C. State Cinderella story. Only to be denied by Jacksonville and U-A-Frickin'-B. Now scroll back up and look at the intro picture again. How does it make you feel now?
  • Well, that you should fire you up for the big game tonight. Go Bulls!