Last year the South Florida Bulls began their push for the NCAA Tournament in earnest with a dramatic last-minute win over the Seton Hall Pirates. This year the stakes aren't quite so high as the two teams face off tonight in Newark, but a victory would help the Bulls continue to turn things in the right direction after an 0-4 start to Big East play. Let's take a look at the matchup:
Yes, we've finally found a team dealing with even more injury issues than the Bulls have. The Pirates were looking like a possible NCAA Tournament team, which they came very close to being last season. Then they lost Patrik Auda for the year with a broken bone in his foot, followed by a season-ending shoulder separation by Brandon Mobley. They've also missed Brian Oliver with a sprained ankle, but the junior swingman may be able to go tonight. Seton Hall had to cut back its rotation against Marquette on Saturday night -- the seven players listed in our graphic were the only seven Pirates who played, and all five startes played 30 minutes or more. All the injury troubles don't really affect their ability to score points, though. Their three leading scorers are still healthy, and Gene Teague is exactly the kind of true center that is likely to give USF a hard time in the paint.
KenPom tells us the Pirates are a team that shoots a lot of three-pointers (41% of their total field goal attempts are from behind the arc), and they shoot well in general. But they turn the ball over a lot, and are not good at the free throw line. The Bulls are strong on the perimeter, which may help them limit the Pirates' three-point shooting. And like they did against Georgetown on Saturday, USF needs to take advantage of the mistakes that Seton Hall is bound to make.