Colorado St.-South Florida Preview
(AP) - Colorado State missed a perfect regular season by a single point. Not all of its 31 wins, however, came easy.
The 11th-seeded Rams put their 28-game winning streak on the line Saturday night in Los Angeles when they take on sixth-seeded South Florida in a first-round matchup in the Bridgeport Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
This is the only first-round meeting of the tournament where both teams are ranked. Colorado State (31-1) is No. 22 and South Florida (23-9) is No. 21.
The Rams are the Mountain West Conference regular season and tournament champs, returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Their only loss came 49-48 at Penn on Nov. 24, and they own the second-longest active winning streak in the nation behind Connecticut (69).
Colorado State, though, won three games by a single point - including the tournament championship game against Fresno State - one game by two points, and another in double overtime.
''When you look at Colorado State and their roster, and the schedule they played, you don't win 31 games if you're not a good basketball team,'' South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. ''I don't think different teams will not go there to play them. It's tough for them to get home games. I definitely think they're a lot better than where they are seeded. That's for sure.''
South Florida, runner-up in the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament, is led by senior guard Courtney Williams. She ranked 11th in the country with 22.0 points per game.
Fernandez was surprised to be in the same region as Connecticut. If both teams get to the Elite Eight, it would be their fourth meeting of the season.
''To be honest the last two years we've played UConn more than anyone in the country and better. To put us in the same region was unexpected,'' he said.
The Bulls lost by an average of 20.7 points in the first three with the Huskies while scoring 56.3 points per game - they averaged 75.4 in their other 29 contests.
They will be facing another stingy team, as Colorado State ranked sixth in the country with 51.3 points allowed per game and fifth in field-goal defense (33.1 percent).
"This team, it's an amazing team," Rams coach Ryun Williams said. "It's the best team I've been a part of because they are just that, a team. We don't do what we did unless they support each other, one through 15. There's just no way."
The winner will face host UCLA or Hawaii in the second round Monday.