The Rays Tank: USF Bulls Receive NCAA Tourney Bid

via The Tampa Tribune

This isn't strictly baseball related, but USF received some spectacular news last night: the Bulls are going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. They'll be facing California in the last First Four match-up, with the winner going on face No. 5 Temple in the first bracket round as a No. 12 seed.

USF is right down the road from the Trop, and they've had to deal with all manner of bad news this year as their football team flamed out like no other and the Big East has come crumbling down around their shoulders. So kudos to the USF basketball team for giving their school something to be proud of -- this should make for one heck of a ride.

If you happen to be a USF fan -- or even if you're not but want to follow along with the action -- make sure you're following Voodoo Five for the Tourney. Ken, Jamie, and Collin are three of my favorite team bloggers out there (and yes, that's across all sports), and they do a fantastic job covering the Bulls. Humor, analysis, and they're not afraid to pull punches when needed. Hit them up on Twitter, for sure:

Ken -- @SBNVoodooFive
Jamie -- @USFVoodoo5
Collin -- @USFCollin

And in other, Rays-related news:

  • From all reports, the spring training trip yesterday was a huge success. The Rays won the game on a ninth-inning walk-off single from Chris Giminez, and everyone got to see Longoria's spring training debut. One of the attendees took some pictures of the game, which you can find here if interested. Thanks to everyone that came!
  • In the FanGraphs positional rankings, the Rays clocked in with the 3rd best rotation in baseball. Only the Phillies and Angels were ranked higher, and I can't disagree with either of those. But the Rays have one leg up on both the Phillies and Angels: their rotation is entirely home-grown.
  • Keeping with that theme, the Rays ranked No. 3 in FanGraph's ranking of the best minor league systems in baseball. That's higher than they've rated on many of lists this off-season, so take it for what you will; the Rays' farm system has lost a bit of luster with so many recent graduates, but I still think their depth can stack up against anyone.
  • So Joe Maddon might hit Carlos Pena in the No. 2 hole this season, citing Pena's OBP as a reason to have him so high in the lineup. He also thinks it might prevent teams from employing the shift on Pena, as Desmond Jennings will be hitting lead-off and is a threat to steal whenever he's on base. Interesting.
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