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Men’s basketball completes non-conference schedule

After the completion of the Bulls’ second season in the conference, the Big East announced two additional inter-conference games. First-year men’s basketball coach Stan Heath has completed the remainder of the Bulls’ schedule – which now includes 31 games, the most in the team’s 35-year history.

The Bulls’ non-conference schedule includes two opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference: Florida State and Wake Forest. The Bulls defeated the Demon Deacons 75-67 at the St. Pete Times Forum last season and will face the Seminoles for the first time since 2002.

Since becoming the Bulls’ coach on April 4, Heath has made a conscious effort to turn around the team that finished 12-18 a year ago by scheduling tougher non-conference opponents.

“I think it’s really important for our team – especially where we are right now – to have some tests in non-conference (play), but also have success where we can build confidence,” Heath said. “We want to play against teams with different styles and will test us to prepare us for conference play … We want play against opponents to create national exposure.”

Part of the non-conference schedule includes four games at the Daytona Beach Shootout, an eight-team tournament in mid-November. USF is scheduled to play Cleveland State at the Sun Dome and then travel across state to face FSU, Florida Atlantic and Rhode Island.

The Bulls are slated to play home games against former Conference-USA foes Alabama-Birmingham and East Carolina in addition to UCF, Campbell and Winston-Salem State.

USF will travel to North Carolina to complete a home-and-home series with Wake Forest and face Buffalo, Richmond and Florida International before starting conference play.

Once Big East play starts, each team will play 18 inter-league games – up from 16 last year – in which USF will play a home-and-home series with two teams and every other team in the Big East once.

“It was important to play every other team at least once. To do that with only 16 games would have allowed only one repeat,” said Big East Associate Commissioner Tom Odjakjian in March. “We needed at least three repeats in order to maximize certain match-ups for CBS and ESPN.”

Although the Bulls have posted a record of 4-28 since moving into the conference, two of the teams’ victories came at the Sun Dome during the second meeting with a Big East team.

In 2005, USF earned its first-ever conference win over Georgetown in the regular season finale and defeated the then-ranked No. 21 team 69-63 last year.The Big East schedule won’t be announced until later this summer.