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Bulls must overcome tough schedule in 2003

USF men’s basketball coach Robert McCullum won’t have an easy first season replacing former coach Seth Greenberg as the Bulls face 12 opponents that advanced to the postseason last year on their 2003 schedule.

Thirteen of USF’s 27 games this season are against postseason teams with the Bulls playing UAB, which made the NIT, twice.

Highlighting USF’s schedule are a pair of home games against Conference USA rivals Marquette and Louisville.

Marquette, which advanced to the NCAA Final Four last season, visits the Sun Dome on Feb. 26 in a game to be nationally televised on ESPN2. Louisville and Coach Rick Pitino come to USF on Jan. 10 with the game to be broadcast on ESPN Plus.

“I think as fans look at the schedule, the Marquette and Louisville games will be singled out as marquee games when you consider the type of seasons they are coming off, their tradition, and the players they return,” McCullum said. “Those are two games that are going to create a great deal of interest.”

The Bulls also entertain NCAA Tournament qualifier Colorado State, which defeated USF last season, at home Dec. 22.

USF will face NCAA participants and C-USA foes Cincinnati and Memphis on the road, in addition to a trip to NCAA South Region finals participant Michigan State on Dec. 16.

The Bulls also visit Richmond, Valparaiso and Providence, which USF defeated at home last season, as well as C-USA opponents DePaul and Saint Louis. All five teams made the NIT last season.

“I think it is a schedule that will be extremely challenging for our team,” McCullum said. “Obviously there are some great Conference USA teams coming to the Sun Dome this year. In addition to that, we have some quality non-conference opponents.”

USF will host one tournament this season, which is the USF Holiday Classic, Dec. 29-30. Texas-Arlington, New Orleans and South Alabama, USF’s first opponent, along with the Bulls comprise the four-team field.

“I think it is a really good field,” McCullum said. “Fans might not be as knowledgeable of Texas-Arlington, but it is a team that will come in and be very competitive. We feel good about having New Orleans and South Alabama, two charter members of the Sun Belt Conference, in the field as well.”

Ten different leagues are represented in USF’s non-conference schedule this season.

The Bulls open up their season with eight of their first 12 games at home, including the season opener Nov. 21 against Florida Atlantic.