Three of South Florida’s previous four losses came against top-ranked Connecticut, and the Bulls may be eying a chance at revenge.
That would require their best ever showing at the NCAA Tournament – and the comforts of home could help.
Sixth-seeded South Florida will try to capitalize on its home-court advantage Saturday night when it faces No. 11 seed LSU in the opening round.
The No. 25 Bulls (26-7) have won 20 of their last 24 games, with three defeats coming against UConn, including an 84-70 defeat in the American Athletic Conference tournament championship game March 9.
South Florida may get a fourth crack at the Huskies, who are the top seed in this region, and that would mean an Elite Eight matchup for the conference rivals. First, the Bulls will have to advance past the opening round for just the second time, but a 12-2 home record should improve those odds.
"If you play on anybody’s home court, it’s tough," junior guard Courtney Williams said. "Being able to be in front of our fans and family members, I think that will be a great boost for us."
Williams leads the AAC with a career-high 20.2 points per game, but she was held to 16 on 7-for-22 shooting against UConn on March 9.
Like Williams, Alisia Jenkins is in search of a bounce-back effort after scoring 10 points with four rebounds in the conference final. The junior forward had totaled 45 points and 29 boards over the first two games of the tournament, and averages 12.9 points and a league-leading 11.6 rebounds on the season.
The Bulls have lost both previous meetings with LSU, the most recent coming at home on Jan. 3, 2007.
The Tigers (17-13) have lost four of seven and a defeat Saturday would bounce them from the NCAAs in their opener for the first time since 1991.
LSU didn’t allay many fears while shooting 38.5 percent in a 74-54 loss to No. 3 South Carolina in the semifinals of the SEC tournament March 7.
The Tigers lead the conference with 10.9 steals per game, but the Bulls’ average of 14.7 turnovers ranks third-best in the AAC.
"USF has great guard play," coach Nikki Caldwell said. "They do a great job taking care of the basketball, so you don’t want to overextend yourself and put yourself at a disadvantage. We have to be smart about the pressure that we bring and who we bring it to … as the game goes on we will adjust and we’ll make some changes. I like the fact that our team, we have aggressive guard play."
Danielle Ballard is looking to show some improvement after going 2 for 10 from the field and finishing with eight points March 7. The junior guard had 42 total points and 17 rebounds in the previous two games.
Raigyne Moncrief is averaging 15.5 points while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor over the past four games after scoring 20 in the conference semifinal.
The winner will face third-seeded Louisville or No. 14 seed Brigham Young in the second round Monday.