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Bulls reach No. 12 in latest AP Poll, left off of NCAA committee’s top 16

Despite the historic AP ranking, the Bulls were not recognized as one the top 16 teams in the country by the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee, which was announced Monday evening. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

The USF women’s basketball team moved up two spots to No. 12 in the AP Top 25 Poll on Monday, but were left off of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee’s first in-season top 16.

After a month of inactivity due to COVID-19 protocols, the Bulls (11-1, 8-0 AAC) fell a couple of spots in several polls, but after Saturday night’s 67-46 blowout win over Tulsa, the team is back on the rise in historic fashion. 

The No. 12 ranking is the highest in program history, surpassing the previous record of No. 13 that was set Jan. 26. 

The Bulls leapfrogged a pair of college basketball powerhouses in Oregon and Ohio State, teams that are prone to making deep runs in the NCAA tournament. 

Despite being ranked No. 12 by the Associated Press, coach Jose Fernandez and his squad were not recognized as one the top 16 teams in the country by the NCAA.

During halftime of Monday night’s matchup between No. 6 Stanford and No. 13 Oregon, the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee revealed its first of two in-season top 16 rankings, and the Bulls were not included. 

The lack of activity over the last month may have cost the Bulls an inclusion in the ranking.

Although they sit at No. 15 in the NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings, which is the metrics system the committee uses in its ranking and selection process, USF was left behind.

As a matter of fact, USF and Michigan were the only one-loss teams to miss out on the top 16. Noticeably, both teams also had extended pauses in activity due to COVID-19-related issues.

Oregon, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia all cracked the top 16 but ranked below USF in the AP Poll.

Although the rankings will have no bearing on the bracket for the NCAA tournament in March, it’s important to keep in mind the committee is also in charge of regional placement for all 16 teams in the rankings.

The next set of rankings from the NCAA will be revealed March 1, two weeks before the beginning of the NCAA tournament in San Antonio.

With the tournament quickly approaching, the Bulls now prepare for the homestretch of this unprecedented season and look to continue building upon their already strong resumé

“Right now it’s one game at a time the rest of the way,” Fernandez said after Saturday’s win. “We do have a good team, but we got to be a great team night in and night out to continue to sit here and talk about wins.”