Collin texted me even before the game was over to say, "The most USF thing. Ever." Well... yeah, it's right up there. This was built up as OMG THE BIGGEST GAME EVAR!!!11!!, and there was a slogan and T-shirts, and everyone and their brother filmed video clips wishing USF luck, and they promoted it as "the biggest game in 20 years." (I'm guessing that was Bill "Big 4" McGillis's idea - and it wasn't even original because they used that EXACT SAME LINE against UConn a couple years ago.)
What's more, this is just what USF does. You start to trust them and truly believe in them for ONE DAMN SECOND and then they immediately punish you for doing so. How can you possibly hold their opponents to 28.8% shooting and lose? How can Kevin Jones get seven offensive rebounds while no one on your team gets more than five, total? How can USF wait 20 seconds to foul when they're down by two in the last minute of the game? (Not going 2-for-1 isn't as clear-cut to me as that, by the way. If you want to debate that in the comments, I'll explain why.)
So USF still has some more work to do in New York to get their invitation to the dance. Fortunately I think that work got a little bit easier:
-- Cincinnati beat Villanova and Marquette beat Georgetown. That makes the seeds #2 Marquette, #3 Notre Dame, #4 Cincinnati, #5 Georgetown, #6 USF. That is FANTASTIC news for the Bulls, who match up horribly with Georgetown and wouldn't have had a prayer of beating them in the quarterfinals whether they had a double-bye or not. The biggest thing in my mind was avoiding the Hoyas, and with them safely on the other side of the draw, that shouldn't be a problem. If they do end up meeting, it would be in the finals, when USF would have long since wrapped up an at-large bid.
-- So, the #6 seed. It means you get to avoid any of the other bubble teams on Wednesday. While you do have to play one extra game. USF was a combined 3-0 against their possible opponents, Rutgers and Villanova. And only the game against Rutgers was really even close. And fortunately St. John's blew it to the Scarlet Knights so you don't have to play them on their home floor.
-- Win that game, and you get Notre Dame on Thursday night. Considering the way USF plays, this is the best matchup they could have hoped for in the quarterfinals. And beating the Irish still improves their tournament resume. This is the big one right here.
-- If the Bulls make it to Friday, they should be in good shape no matter what happens against either Marquette, Louisville, or (possibly) Seton Hall.
So USF's work is pretty clearly cut out for them in the Garden. Win two games and they should be fine. Win only one and things are murky. Get sent home on Wednesday and they might as well call the Forum and ask what dates are available for home games in the NIT.
And before you make this face about the NIT... um, this team went 10-23 last year. Are you really going to be upset if that ends up being USF's fate?
P.S. USF will play at 9:00pm every night at the Big East tournament until they're eliminated. You know what that means... BILL RAFTERY AND JAY BILAS CALLING USF GAMES EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. This makes things like 1000% better.