TAMPA, MARCH 13, 2017 – The University of South Florida’s return trip to the NCAA Tournament will start close to home. The Bulls will travel upstate to Tallahassee for the first round as the 11-seed and will face sixth-seeded Missouri Friday at 5 p.m.
Head coach Jose Fernandez’s Bulls will face Missouri for the first time in program history at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The game will tip at 5 p.m. and will be televised nationally on the ESPN family of networks. Third-seed and host Florida State will take on No. 14 Western Illinois at 7:30 p.m. in the other Tallahassee game that is part of the Stockton, Calif. region.
The Bulls watched their post season journey unfold on the NCAA Selection Show at the Sun Dome Arena Club with hundreds of fans and supporters. President Dr. Judy Genshaft and Athletic Director Mark Harlan cheered alongside the team when USF’s name appeared during the ESPN broadcast.
Tickets for Friday’s game will be available when the NCAA and host institution Florida State release ticket details, including price, purchasing locations and procedures. On Tuesday, March 14, USF season ticket members and Bulls Club donors will receive an email with detailed information about how to request tickets.
· Florida State will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Donald L. Tucker Center (Capacity: 12,100).
· Host and three-seed Florida State (25-6) will face Western Illinois (26-6). Florida State lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament, 56-54, to No. 8/12 Miami. Western Illinois earned one of 32 automatic bids as the Summit League Tournament Champions. Western Illinois defeated IUPUI 77-69.
· Missouri (21-10) is the six-seed and lost in their first game of the SEC Tournament to Texas A&M, 62-48.
· American Athletic Conference foe, UConn, is again the overall No. 1 seed of the tournament and the Bridgeport Region. Notre Dame is the No. 1 seed of the Oklahoma City Region and Baylor is the No. 1 seed in the Lexington Region. South Carolina is the No. 1 seed in Stockton Region.
· The first round of the NCAA Tournament will be played on March 17 & 18. The second round will be played March 19 & 20. The Regionals will be played March 24-27. The Final Four will take place March 31-April 2 in Dallas, Texas.
Head coach Jose Fernandez on the Bulls NCAA Tournament run:
We’re really excited. It’s an opportunity for our fans to make the trip to Tallahassee and see us play. We’re playing a very good Missouri team. It’s our fifth NCAA Tournament berth and we’re looking forward to the challenge. We’re excited that we’re still playing basketball at this time of year.
Junior captain Maria Jespersen on the Bulls’ staying in Florida:
Our dream when we were working out this summer and in preseason was to get back to the NCAA Tournament. We’re really excited to stay in Florida and to get started. We have a great fan base and I’m sure they’ll be there to support us.
· The Bulls are making their fourth tournament appearance in the last five seasons and the program’s fifth overall trip. This is the third consecutive year USF will make an NCAA appearance.
· USF will play in the 6/11 match-up for the third consecutive year, and are 2-0 in both first round appearances. The Bulls were seeded sixth the last two seasons and defeated 11-seed Colorado State 48-45 in 2016 and LSU 73-64 in 2015.
· USF has been as high as a six-seed and as low as an 11-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulls were a nine-seed in their first ever NCAA appearance in 2006 and a 10-seed in 2013.
· USF has been ranked as high as No. 19 nationally during the program’s fifth consecutive 20-win season. USF (24-8) is coming off its third consecutive appearance in the American Athletic Conference Championship game.
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USF has notched its fifth consecutive 20-win season. The Bulls tallied its 20th win in their 24th contest of the season which tied the fastest any program has reached 20 wins. This is the eighth 20-win season in program history and head coach Jose Fernandez has been at the helm for all eight 20-win seasons. The 2014-15 team reached 20 wins in 24 games, and still currently holds the best record for most wins in a season (27).
USF has made 12 postseason tournament appearances and had four NCAA Tournament berths in Head Coach Jose Fernandez’s 16 seasons. The all-time winningest coach in program history, Fernandez has guided USF to eight 20-win seasons, two WNIT final four appearances, the 2009 WNIT championship and won more than 300 games.