Crazy things were happening this weekend in college basketball. Ohio State beat Illinois. Florida beat Kentucky. Missouri beat Kansas.
And when the upset bug made its long-awaited return to Tampa on Saturday, USF beat No. 18 Charlotte.
The madness of March finally arrived in the team’s last game at the Sun Dome this season, and it was a welcome sight as the Bulls finally, mercifully, had a reason to celebrate.
The lunacy witnessed when USF toppled the heavily favored 49ers is an image unfamiliar to Bulls’ basketball fans, who hadn’t been that excited since, well … um, moving on.
Brian Swift, who scored 19 points and played the entire game, got a proper and deserved escort following the upset, as fans lifted the 5-foot-10 guard onto their shoulders and carried him out of the Sun Dome for the last time in his career.
Finally, Swift wasn’t the one doing the carrying.
Along with Swift, the team’s other seniors — Terrence Leather, Marlyn Bryant and Brandon Brigman — will go out on top, no matter what happens at the Conference USA Tournament this week in Memphis.
All Leather did was score 24 points and pull down 12 rebounds in the win.
What about Bryant? All he did was contribute a double-double of his own with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Brigman was hobbled and only played three minutes.
“To win against those odds on Senior Night is a great way to send your seniors off,” USF coach Robert McCullum said after the game.
The insanity observed had been building and waiting to boil over. The Bulls haven’t had a winning season in C-USA since 2000-01 (previously their only one ever) and were coming off a 2003-04 season in which they won one conference game.
So it’s understandable why the Bulls’ faithful stormed the court with such fervor — they had just experienced March Madness first-hand for probably the first time.
“This is what I had in mind all year with our fans,” Swift said after the game. “I’m glad it finally happened for us.”
USF now faces Houston on Wednesday in the first round of the C-USA Tournament. The Cougars have beaten the Bulls by double digits twice this season.
So is a win for the Bulls out of the question?
Perhaps not. Crazier things have happened.