Lazy Sunday with the USF Bulls: They Have HOW Many Big East Wins?!


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By far the biggest surprise in the Big East this season has been the performance of the South Florida Bulls. A perennial bottom-quarter of the Big East team, USF has torn through the Big East schedule and are currently sitting at 10 – 5 in the conference. The biggest knock on the Bulls is that they are only 17 – 11 overall, have bad losses to Auburn and Penn State, and have yet to beat a ranked opponent on their schedule. But 10 – 5 in the deepest conference in college basketball means something and USF has a lot to play for including their first NCAA bid since joining the Big East.

Key Numbers

The most important stat over all other stats in this game is this: 1. That’s the amount of home games South Florida has lost this season. It was a three-point loss to UConn at the end of December but by and large the Bulls are damn-near impossible to beat on their ‘home court’. I use quotations because the Sun Dome is currently undergoing restoration and USF has been renting out a variety of venues including the Bob Martinez Sports Center, the St. Pete Times Forum, and the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The latter is where the Bearcats will play the Bulls tomorrow and USF has yet to lose there this year.

Offensively, South Florida doesn’t do a whole lot of anything right. Just one USF player averages more than 10 points per game. As a team, they are last in the Big East in points scored per game, second-to-last in offensive rebounding and total rebounding, 13th in three point shooting, and 14th in assist/turnover ratio at a horrible click of 0.89. But where the Bulls really shine is when they don’t have the ball in their hands. They only allow opponents to score 58.1 points per game on them which is best in the conference and 10th best in the country. Overall they hold opponents to pretty bad field goal percentages but this is especially true from beyond the arc where they are shooting a hair over 30%. This is especially important in a game against the Bearcats team that just loves to shoot the three-ball.

Players to Watch

Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (#32): Besides sporting one of the greatest names in college basketball right now, he has a solid combination of size and shooting ability that makes him a threat to score in a variety of ways. He’s a 6’8″ power forward that not only leads the Bulls in rebounds at 6.5 per game but, get this, leads South Florida in shooting from beyond the arc among the regular players at 43%. Hello, Jae Crowder/Moe Harkless part 2. These type of players provide match-up problems for other teams when they have the ball in their hands. By and large it will probably be on Justin Jackson on the inside or Dion Dixon on the outside to contain Fitzpatrick.

Cashmere Wright/Jaquon Parker: Both battled injuries in the win over Louisville and it will be interesting to see how two days of rest will affect their health tomorrow. Cash seemed fine returning to the game after turning his ankle but I’m more concerned with Jaquon’s injured groin. This was why he was missing at the beginning of the season and by-and-large led to the poor play before the Xavier game. Parker is the catalyst that allows Mick to run the 4-guard offense properly and generating points in this game, which is even more important against the South Florida defense. Jaquon is also a talented rebounder from the guard position and plays solid defense. If he is absent on Sunday or far from 100% the Bearcats will be hurting to replace his production.

Final Thoughts and Prediction

Climbing to even 50 points against this South Florida defense is a tall task. It will be especially tough at the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the Bulls have not lost this season and provides a bandbox effect to opposing teams. This will be a low scoring affair that just might work into USF’s favor. While the Bearcats have played well this year on the road South Florida has a lot of things going for them right now. It pains me to say this but I think the Bearcats will drop this one especially if Parker doesn’t play. I would obviously love to be proved wrong, thought!

South Florida: 56

Cincinnati: 54