The Washington Times - February 20, 2012, 08:45AM

And so South Florida – the improbably 10-4-in-the-Big-East South Florida – is making its debut in the bracket projection.

This would have been an unexpected development two weeks ago after the Bulls scored 45 points in a blowout loss to Georgetown, a setback that seemed to expose them as a team ticketed for the NIT.

SEE RELATED:


Four wins in a row later, South Florida is a serious NCAA tournament contender. Ah, the beauty of college basketball.

Here’s this week’s 68-team projection:

EAST REGION

Pittsburgh

(1) BIG EAST/Syracuse vs. (16) MID-EASTERN/Savannah State-AMERICA EAST/Vermont
(8) Kansas State vs. (9) Alabama

Portland

(4) ATLANTIC COAST/Florida State vs. (13) SUMMIT/Oral Roberts
(5) Indiana vs. (12) BIG WEST/Long Beach State

Columbus

(3) Michigan vs. (14) SOUTHERN/Davidson
(6) Notre Dame vs. (11) Mississippi State

Omaha

(2) Kansas vs. (15) ATLANTIC SUN/Belmont
(7) MOUNTAIN WEST/New Mexico vs. (10) IVY/Harvard

SOUTH REGION

Louisville

(1) SOUTHEASTERN/Kentucky vs. (16) SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC/Mississippi Valley State
(8) Iowa State vs. (9) PAC-12/California

Portland

(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) Xavier/South Florida
(5) UNLV vs. (12) West Virginia

Pittsburgh

(3) Georgetown vs. (14) COLONIAL/Drexel
(6) Creighton vs. (11) Texas

Greensboro

(2) North Carolina vs. (15) BIG SKY/Weber State
(7) WEST COAST/Saint Mary’s vs. (10) Purdue

MIDWEST REGION

Columbus

(1) BIG TEN/Michigan State vs. (16) BIG SOUTH/UNC Asheville-SOUTHLAND/UT Arlington
(8) Seton Hall vs. (9) Virginia

Albuquerque

(4) Florida vs. (13) METRO ATLANTIC/Iona
(5) ATLANTIC 10/Temple vs. (12) CONFERENCE USA/Southern Mississippi

Nashville

(3) Marquette vs. (14) MID-AMERICAN/Akron
(6) OHIO VALLEY/Murray State vs. (11) Northwestern

Omaha

(2) BIG 12/Missouri vs. (15) PATRIOT/Bucknell
(7) Gonzaga vs. (10) Miami

WEST REGION

Greensboro

(1) Duke vs. (16) HORIZON/Valparaiso
(8) San Diego State vs. (9) Memphis

Nashville

(4) Vanderbilt vs. (13) Washington/Illinois
(5) Louisville vs. SUN BELT/Middle Tennessee State

Albuquerque

(3) Baylor vs. (14) WESTERN ATHLETIC/Nevada
(6) MISSOURI VALLEY/Wichita State vs. (11) Brigham Young

Louisville

(2) Ohio State vs. (15) NORTHEAST/Long Island
(7) Saint Louis vs. (10) Connecticut

Last four in: South Florida, Illinois, Washington, Xavier
On the doorstep: N.C. State, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Minnesota
Next four out: Louisiana State, Colorado State, Arizona, Mississippi

Conference call: Big East (9), Big Ten (8), Big 12 (6), Atlantic Coast (5), Southeastern (5), Atlantic 10 (3), Mountain West (3), West Coast (3), Conference USA (2), Missouri Valley (2), Pac-12 (2).

Patrick Stevens