USF and the American Athletic Conference deserve more respect than the NCAA gives them.

South Florida forward Corey Walker Jr. (15) brings the ball up court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Charlotte on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

Selection Sunday can be very cruel to teams that aren’t in the Power 5 (soon to be 4) conferences. The Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, ACC, SEC and the Pac 12 all receive far more at large bids than they deserve which cuts out many deserving Group of 5 schools. The NCAA says that March Madness is all about Cinderella stories but that doesn’t match up with seeing the 6th best team in the Big Ten or 7th best team in the SEC make it to the postseason tournament.

South Florida finished with a 24-7 record and 14-2 at the top of the AAC and that wasn’t good enough to make the NCAA tournament because a computer said so. Early season losses to lesser competition cost the Bulls despite winning 20 out of their last 22 games to close out the season.

This season South Florida, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, Birmingham, and Memphis all were teams deserving of consideration by the powers that be in the NCAA. The top two seeds USF who won the regular season AAC title and FAU who came in second lost in their semi-final games with most pundts saying that the Bulls needed to make the tournament finals to have any chance at an NCAA bid.

After Saturday’s loss to Charlotte in the AAC semi-finals USF head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim made the case for his team being included in the field of 68 NCAA Tournament in the post-game press conference.

“I don’t know who the bracketologists are. I guess they have a team somewhere sequestered,” Abdur-Rahim said. “But what I would say is this: If you want to see what South Florida’s all about if you want to see if we’re one of the best 68 teams, put us in one of those first four games. Put us against your best team. … Come see about us, because this ain’t the same ol’ South Florida.”

For the last couple of weeks Abdur-Raham has been very vocal about winning the conference regular season title seems meaningless to the folks that pick the field of 68. How can USF be ranked 24th in the country with the nation’s longest winning streak lose the final game of the regular season giving them a 20-2 record down the stretch and fall out of the top 68 teams in the country?

Abdur-Raham pondered just what it would take to impress those who pick the field of 68?

“We’re in the NCAA, right? This is supposed to be higher education,” he said. “What are we teaching our kids by saying, ‘Hey, be consistent for two months. Be the most consistent you can be, grow, and continue to come together, and we won’t reward you for that.’ What are we doing, guys? C’mon, man. Be better, bracketologists.”

The man has a point. But it looks like USF will be in the postseason with an NIT bid and a chance to prove to the NCAA that got it wrong and a chance to play one more home game before a sold-out crowd. It’s a good result and what a magical year it has been for the Bulls.