MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME TIME

When: Sat., 7 p.m.Where: Sun DomeTV/Radio: ESPN 360, 1250 AM

The story: Just two weeks ago, the men’s basketball team looked as if it might be on its way to the Big East Tournament for the first time.

The Bulls defeated then-No. 21 Notre Dame on Feb. 3 to get their third conference win – half of the six wins coach Robert McCullum originally said he thought USF would need to get one of the 12 slots in the tournament. Since the upset against the Fighting Irish, the Bulls have suffered three straight losses and have just four remaining games, starting with DePaul on Saturday at the Sun Dome.

USF is 14th place in the conference with three wins, while the 10th, 11th and 12th-place teams all have five conference wins. However, two of those teams – Connecticut and St. John’s – beat the Bulls this season, meaning they own the tiebreaker. The other team with five wins is Providence, which USF hosts Feb. 28 in its final home game of the season. Seton Hall, which the Bulls travel to on Feb. 24, is a half game ahead of USF, but the Pirates play four of their final five games on the road, including trips to No. 22 West Virginia and No. 5 Pittsburgh.

Even if the Bulls get six wins, they aren’t guaranteed a berth in the tournament at Madison Square Garden. They may have to win all four of their remaining games to get in. Regardless, USF’s tournament hopes will be in extreme jeopardy if the Bulls don’t beat the Blue Demons on Saturday – two of USF’s final three games are on the road, where the Bulls haven’t won a conference game since joining the Big East.

Keep an eye on: DePaul guard Sammy Mejia. Last season, the 6-foot-6 senior scored 21 points in the Blue Demons’ 80-66 win against USF. This season Mejia is averaging 13.4 points per game.

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