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USF Men’s Basketball look to continue record-breaking year with tournament run

Kenny Morales

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South Florida Bulls during a men's basketball game against the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Feb. 14, 2024. Photo: Aschley Joseph/South Florida Basketball.

The University of South Florida men’s basketball team has had an electrifying season, culminating with what they hope is their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2012. But before the Bulls (23-6) can think about putting on their dancing shoes, they need to take care of business in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) tournament.

Despite their historic regular season, USF is not a lock to make the big dance. A few early-season losses coupled with a loss to Tulsa in their regular season finale has the Bulls squarely on the bubble. This means they’ll likely need to win the AAC tournament if they don’t want to be sweating it out come Selection Sunday. 

The team’s success has sparked excitement throughout the USF community. Despite being picked to finish ninth in a preseason poll, they have achieved remarkable milestones, including a record 15-game winning streak, selling out consecutive home games and beating nationally ranked teams like Florida Atlantic University. Following the unprecedented turnaround season, first-year USF men’s basketball coach Amir Abdur-Rahim was named AAC Coach of the Year.

“It’s incredible what special things can happen when no one cares who gets the credit,” said Abdur-Rahim during a press conference March 12. “This is a group of guys that hadn’t really cared who got the credit, and that’s that’s not easy to do in today’s environment of collegiate sport. In today’s environment, just, period.”

The team’s success has not only elevated their performance but has also united fans and attracted new supporters to the games. There’s palpable pride and unity among students, alumni and staff, fostering a strong sense of school spirit and community engagement. Take a look at any of the hundreds of comments on the USF Men’s Basketball Instagram account for proof of the excitement the team is generating.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by USF Men’s Basketball (@usfmbb)

 

As the Bulls head into the conference tournament as the top seed, there is a palpable sense of anticipation and hope for continued success. The Bulls ended their season and their win streak with a loss to Tulsa, but Abdur-Rahim said they are back to the drawing board and making adjustments before heading into the AAC tournament.

“Our team is going into this tournament with a mindset of we still got something to prove. We don’t forget the fact that they picked us [to finish] ninth.”

 With their eyes set on further victories and a potential bid to the NCAA tournament, Abdur-Rahim hopes the USF men’s basketball team will stand as a beacon of achievement and unity within the university community.

In the words of Abdur-Rahim, “This ain’t the same old South Florida.”

The Bulls take on the East Carolina Pirates (15-17) at 1 p.m. Friday, March 15 (today).

Update: USF beat the East Carolina Pirates 81-59. They now advance to the AAC semifinals, where they will play the winner of the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Wichita State game.

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