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Preview and GameThread - USF vs. Notre Dame (12:00pm ET)

A band of Fighting Irish invade the USF Sun Dome on Gasparilla. Let's take a look at the matchup, and if you're not at the parade, talk about it here.

Jack Cooley, here to haunt your dreams today.
Jack Cooley, here to haunt your dreams today.
Michael Hickey

In their infinite wisdom, the Big East decided that the day of Gasparilla in Tampa would be a perfect day for the South Florida Bulls to host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Not only that, but the tipoff is at noon, right when the heavy drinking and debauchery is getting underway on Bayshore. So let's all brace ourselves for the HURRRR LOOGIT THIS CROWD 10 MINUTES BEFORE TIPOFF pictures on Twitter and look at today's matchup:

Last month when I was in Stillwater watching some no-name Oklahoma State center go for a career night against USF, I semi-seriously tweeted that Jack Cooley might be able to get a 50 and 30 against this team. Well, here he is, and he could be the Bulls' worst nightmare today. Probably not to the tune of 50 points and 30 rebounds, but Cooley is Notre Dame's leading scorer and rebounder. He leads the Big East on the boards, and he averages 4.5 offensive rebounds a game, which in case you've been trapped under something heavy and haven't seen any of their games is a particular weak spot for USF.

Notre Dame is extremely efficient on offense (#10 nationally according to KenPom). They rank in the top 15 nationally in both 2-point FG% and 3-point FG%, they rarely turn the ball over, their assist rate on made shots is off the charts. Their defense is only mediocre when you account for their slow pace, and they don't force many turnovers. But since they're second in the country in fewest fouls per game, you can pretty much forget about getting to the free throw line against them. (USF is actually 10th in fewest fouls.)

With Scott Martin (hilariously listed as a 6'8" guard) out of the lineup, and without much experience on the Irish bench, Mike Brey may decide to break out his infamous Burn offense in this one. USF would of course be happy to oblige him, and that means a very low-scoring game could be in the offering today. You know, maybe you should go to Gasparilla after all. We'll let you know what happened when you sober up.