TAMPA (Sept. 17, 2021) –University of South Florida women’s basketball head coach Jose Fernandez, has consistently put together impressive non-conference schedules and the 2021-22 edition may be the most impressive yet, ranking as the toughest in the country.
Fernandez announced Monday this season’s slate that includes 11 of the Bulls’ potential 16 non-conference foes which advanced to the 2021 postseason, nine of those taking part in the NCAA Tournament.
“With the caliber of team, we have returning this type of schedule will not only prepare us for league play but will give us some great opportunities to bolster our SOS (strength of schedule) and NET ranking,” said Fernandez.
Highlighting this year’s schedule is a stretch that will be hard to match by any program in the nation.
After back-to-back home games to open the season against Texas Rio Grande Valley and Alabama State on Tues., Nov. 9 and Thur., Nov. 11, respectively, the Bulls will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to face long time power Tennessee in the AAC/SEC Challenge on Mon., Nov. 15. Tennessee finished the 2020-21 campaign with a 17-8 record, and a 9-4 mark in the SEC, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, losing to sixth-seeded Michigan.
South Florida will then play four games in two separate events in The Bahamas, potentially facing three of the four teams that took part in the 2021 Women’s Final Four in San Antonio in consecutive games.
The Bulls tipoff the four-game stretch in the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis held at the Atlantis Paradise Island Hotel. The Bulls face Syracuse on Sat., Nov. 20. The Orange finished last season with a 15-9 record and a 9-7 ledger in the ACC, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, falling to No. 1-seed UConn in the round of 32.
South Florida will then face either UConn or Minnesota on Sun., Nov. 21, and close out the Battle 4 Atlantis on Mon., Nov. 22, against either Oregon, Oklahoma, South Carolina or Buffalo.
The Huskies, former BIG EAST and American Athletic Conference foes of the Bulls, advanced to the NCAA Final Four national semifinals last season before falling to runner-up Arizona. UConn ended the season with a 28-2 overall record and a perfect 18-0 mark in the BIG EAST.
The Golden Gophers were 8-13 overall and 7-11 in the Big Ten Conference.
South Carolina, like UConn, advanced to the national semifinals but fell to eventual national champion, Stanford. The Gamecocks closed out 2020-21 with a 26-5 record and a 14-2 record in the SEC.
Oregon posted a 15-9 record, and a 10-7 mark in the Pac-12 Conference last season, and fell in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 to Louisville.
Oklahoma was 12-12 and 9-8 in the Big 12, while Buffalo finished 2020-21 15-9 and 11-6 in the Mid-American Conference.
Following the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Bulls will travel 20 miles west on the island for the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship at the Baha Mar Grand Hyatt Hotel Convention Center in Nassau. South Florida will play one game in the event as they take on defending national champion Stanford on Fri., Nov. 26. The Cardinal posted a 31-2 overall record, and a 19-2 record in the Pac 12.
South Florida will play two more road games before returning home for two straight contests. The Bulls will travel to the Lone Star State to face UT Arlington on Thur., Dec. 2, and then to Richmond, Va. to butt heads with the defending Atlantic 10 champions, VCU, on Sun., Dec. 12.
VCU lost in the NCAA Tournament first round to fourth-seeded Indiana and closed out the campaign with a 16-11 mark and a 10-5 record in conference play.
The Green and Gold will return to the friendly confines of the Yuengling Center for back-to-back home games against Stetson on Wed., Dec. 15, and High Point on Fri., Dec. 17.
The Hatters advanced to the postseason, taking part in the Women’s Basketball Invitational, while the Panthers won the Big South Championship and fell to UConn in the NCAA Tournament first round. High Point was 22-7 overall and 17-3 in conference play last season.
The Bulls will play their final non-conference road games at the West Palm Invitational against West Virginia on Mon., Dec. 20, and close out the event against Mississippi on Tues., Dec. 21.
The Mountaineers finished last season with a 22-7 record and a 13-5 record in the Big 12. They lost to fifth-seeded Georgia Tech in the NCAA second round.
The Rebels advanced to the WNIT championship game where they fell to Rice finishing the season 15-12.
South Florida closes out its nonconference schedule – and 2021 – at home against in-state foe Jacksonville on Wed., Dec. 29.
The American announced the Bulls’ home and way conference opponents in July, and the complete AAC schedule will be released in the coming weeks.
2021-22 Conference Home & Away Opponents: UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, Temple, Tulane & Wichita State
2021-22 Conference Home Only: Memphis & Tulsa
2021-22 Conference Away Only: East Carolina & SMU
Season tickets are on sale now. Fans are encouraged to visit USFBullsTix.com or call 1-800-GoBulls to purchase their season tickets.
Last season, South Florida claimed conference regular season and tournament championship while posting a 19-4 overall record, and a 12-2 mark in The American. The Bulls capped an unprecedented season with their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and sixth trip to the Big Dance in the last nine years. The Green and Gold finished the year ranked No. 19 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll and No. 18 in the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll. The Bulls rose as high as No. 12 in the AP poll on Feb. 15, USF’s highest ranking ever.
Included in their 19 wins were a thrilling 67-63 overtime victory over No. 6 Mississippi State, the highest-ranked team the Bulls have ever defeated, and two victories over rival UCF. The first win against the Knights secured the AAC regular-season crown on March 2 (W, 65-62) and the second the AAC Tournament title on March 11 (W, 64-54).
USF defeated Washington State, 57-53, in the NCAA Tournament first round for its first tournament win since March 19, 2016, when it defeated Colorado State, 48-45