After narrowly missing out on the NCAA Tournament in 2014, coach Jose Fernandez promised fans the team wouldn’t fall victim to the same fate this season.
The women’s basketball team have lost only three of its 14 games thus far this season, with two of those losses coming from opponents ranked within the top 10 teams nationally.
USF (11-3) earned its first national attention of the year after an impressive opening weekend ,during which the Bulls won both of their games, including a win at UT-Chattanooga, which is receiving votes in the AP poll.
But the Bulls lost to No. 8 Maryland in their third game of the season and haven’t been ranked since, despite going on to win 10 of their 12 games.
What makes the Bulls’ absence from the top-25 so perplexing is their strength of schedule.
Before the season, Fernandez told fans that the Bulls’ tough non-conference schedule would be the key to earning the team national respect and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
USF went 9-3 in non-conference play, including two wins against teams receiving votes to be ranked.
The total combined record of teams the Bulls have beaten this season is 65-69.
In comparison, 11 teams positioned ahead of USF have worse combined records of opponents beaten. Out of those teams, only No. 17 Mississippi State has more wins against teams with a winning record.
It’s clear the Bulls aren’t receiving the respect they deserve, one obvious example of this being UT-Chattanooga’s position ahead of them in the rankings, despite having the same record and having lost to the Bulls.
Leaving the Bulls out of the top 25 is a mistake by AP poll voters, and it is confusing that a loss to No. 8 Maryland would knock them out of the rankings for such an extended period of time.
Not only do the Bulls have an impressive strength of schedule, but they also have as many or more wins than 12 teams ranked above them.