If you're looking for the ultimate sign of USF basketball's painful history, this might be it: In 35 seasons of playing in a basketball conference, the Bulls have never won 10 or more games in a single conference season, whether it was the Sun Belt, the Metro, Conference USA, or the Big East. They'll have five chances to finally get there this year, starting Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
What about those other times, though? The Bulls have won exactly nine conference games four times -- in 1983-84 (9-5 in the Sun Belt), 1989-90 (9-5 in the Sun Belt), 2000-01 (9-7 in C-USA), and 2009-10 (9-9 in the Big East). In 1984 and 2010, they won their last conference game to get to nine wins.
(By the way, if you think this year's team slows down the tempo, the last game of the 1984 season, before there was a shot clock in college basketball, was a 42-38 win over Jacksonville. I'd love to see the stats on that one to see if they'd make my face melt, but it appears no record of the game exists on the Internet.)
In 1990, they had one chance to get that elusive 10th conference win. In another game that has apparently slipped through the Web's memory hole, USF lost to those same Jacksonville Dolphins 86-84. But they got their revenge at the Sun Belt tournament, beating them by 27 points in the semifinals before knocking off Charlotte the next day to punch their first (ETA: and only) ticket to the NCAA tournament. (GARYSJ ADDS: To this day, 1990 is USF's only automatic NCAA bid/conference tournament championship. The 1992 bid was at-large.)
And then in 2001, Seth Greenberg's loaded USF team had three chances to get that 10th win, and naturally, being a Seth Greenberg-coached team, they didn't get there. First, they got walloped by Memphis 79-61 in The Pyramid. Then, they came back to the Sun Dome for the annual Big Game At Home Against Cincinnati and lost that one too, 77-66. Finally, they finished the regular season by losing 83-77 to Southern Miss, although to be fair, they would go on to lose much worse season-ending games to much worse Southern Miss teams in the future.
Is this the season USF finally hits double digits in conference wins? KenPom gives it about an 85% chance of happening eventually, but their best chance might be their first one. We'll see what happens in Pittsburgh.