Column: Time is sad song for the Bulls

In Mick Jagger’s case, time was on his side. Boy George had nothing but time. And Styx had too much time on their hands.

What do all these hits have in common with the USF men’s basketball team?

Absolutely nothing.

None of the tunes would be good theme songs for the Bulls right now. USF has lost two of its last three games, including Friday’s 96-78 setback at Louisville on national television. The question now is do the Bulls have enough time left to salvage this season and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade?

The clock is ticking.

USF started the season with so much promise. The Bulls swept through the first month undefeated, picking up RPI-bolstering wins against California at home and Pittsburgh on the road. USF was 7-0 and on the verge of cracking the Top 25.If only coach Seth Greenberg could save time in a bottle like Jim Croce.

Then came the Florida game, followed by the Syracuse loss. And in no time at all, the Bulls went from 7-0 to 14-7, a .500 skid that has put their NCAA Tournament hopes in severe jeopardy. In a game that could have put them back on track Friday, the Bulls ran into a Louisville team that was unconscious from long range. The Cardinals shot twice their season average (60 percent) from downtown.

Bad timing.

With eight games left in the regular season, the clock hasn’t struck midnight just yet. If the Bulls run the table, they’ll finish at 22-7 with the Conference USA Tournament still to play. Looking at the upcoming slate, an eight-game winning streak is not that far of a stretch, with the big game being Memphis at home Feb. 20. And a split of the season series with Memphis will be key.

Cincinnati and the Tigers are locks for the NCAA Tournament, with Marquette almost as safe a bet. This means, depending whether four or five C-USA teams are selected for the Tourney, it will come down to USF, Charlotte and Louisville for the final slot(s). Losses to the 49ers and Cardinals put the Bulls a step behind, but the conference tournament may provide USF another shot at Charlotte and/or Louisville and a possible ticket to the Dance.

Greenberg said he thinks the Bulls’ Tourney chances are in good shape with a 20-win season. The players believe there is enough time left.

And with their backs to the wall, the Bulls (14-7, 4-4 in C-USA) begin their eight-game stretch at 8 tonight against UAB (10-11, 3-5 in C-USA) at the Sun Dome. The Blazers are looking for their season-high third straight win.

And if the Bulls plan on dancing in March, there is no time like the present.

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