Feb 26, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; South Florida Bulls mascot Rocky D. Bull is held in the air by cheerleaders during a time out in the second half of their game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Bulls won 46-45. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE
Yes, I'm actually going to do one of these. At the current rate, it'll be 2032 before I get to again.
First, the league standings as of right now (including Georgetown's win over Notre Dame):
Big East Conference Standings
(updated 2.27.2012 at 12:33 AM CST)
|Marquette Golden Eagles||13||3||24||5|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||12||5||20||10|
|South Florida Bulls||11||5||18||11|
|Seton Hall Pirates||8||9||19||10|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||7||9||17||12|
|St. John's Red Storm||6||10||13||16|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||5||11||13||16|
|DePaul Blue Demons||2||14||11||17|
For those of you not familiar with the seeding of the Big East Conference Tournament: Basically: the teams seeded #9-16 play a round on Tuesday; the four winners play the #5-#8 seeds on Wednesday; after that the #1-4 seeds join in and it becomes eight-team single elimination. If you're more a visual learner, take a look at the bracket on Wikipedia to see how it is set up.
Teams seeded #4 or better get the precious "double-bye", which means they get to skip the first two days of play and go straight to the quarterfinals on Thursday. Getting the double bye would be a huge advantage for USF. They'd be more rested, facing a team that had to play the previous day, and they'd get to skip over a 5-12 game that won't help their resume if they win, but could destroy it if they lose.
With or without the double-bye, and with or without a win at Louisville, the Big East quarterfinal game could be what decides it for USF. Win that game (which would almost certainly be over a bona fide NCAA team), and our bubble profile is suddenly a lot stronger. Combine that with a Louisville win and we can think about skipping Dayton.
IF USF WINS ITS LAST TWO GAMES: The Bulls would be 13-5. What seed they would get depends on the Georgetown@Marquette and Providence@Notre Dame games.
If Georgetown and Marquette both win, USF loses the tiebreaker (because they lost to both teams) and would get a #5 seed. They would have to play the winner of the #12-#13 game, someone out of the St. John's/Rutgers/Pittsburgh/Villanova morass, on Tuesday. Georgetown would be #3 and Notre Dame #4 (because Georgetown beat Notre Dame). USF would be seeded to play Notre Dame in what could be an NCAA-clinching conference quarterfinal.
If one team loses and the other doesn't, USF would be #4, get the double-bye and would be seeded to face the team that lost.
If USF wins out and both these teams lose their finales, USF shoots all the way up to the #3 seed. Georgetown would be #4 and Notre Dame #5. USF would be seeded to play the #6 seed, which would almost certainly be Cincinnati, Which would not be the best of all worlds: they're plenty good enough to beat us, but their RPI stinks, so we wouldn't get a precious Top 50 win if we won.
In other words, if USF wins out, they're looking at Notre Dame or Georgetown in the quarterfinals, barring an upset in the second round. But let's not forget USF can be upset too if they have to play the 5-12-13 game.
IF USF GOES 1-1: The Bulls would be 12-6. They get a #5 seed, unless USF's loss is to Louisville, and Louisville also wins at Syracuse. If that happens, Louisville gets the #5 seed and USF drops to #6.
IF USF LOSES ITS LAST TWO GAMES: You can pretty much forget the at-large bid if they do, but USF would be a #6 seed, unless Cincinnati wins its last two games, in which case Cincy would be #6 and USF would drop to #7.
The Bulls really don't want to be a 7 seed. #7 plays #10, and #6 plays #11. There's a serious drop-off from the #10 seed -- Seton Hall, UConn, or West Virginia -- to the #11 seed, which would be St. John's, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, or Villanova. As a 6 seed, USF would get to play someone in the latter on Wednesday before drawing #3 Notre Dame/Marquette/Georgetown on Thursday.
So what's the best situation for USF? I would like to see USF as the #4 seed, with Notre Dame as the #5. This would require USF to win out, Notre Dame to lose their finale, and Georgetown to win theirs. Of the possible opponents at this point, I think Notre Dame is the most beatable, especially with them coming off a game the day before and USF not. If the Bulls win that, the next opponent is (barring major upset) Syracuse, where another close loss might be enough to impress the selection committee. If USF has to go the 2-3-6-7 path, there might be more expectation to win a semi-final against Notre Dame, Georgetown, or Louisville.
If nothing else, USF will wear white jerseys in New York. If you wagered on that before the season -- or even a month ago -- collect your winnings.