Win or lose, the South Florida Bulls are locked into the #12 seed at next week's Big East tournament in New York. They'll play Seton Hall at 7:00pm Tuesday night whether they score 30 points or 100 points against the Cincinnati Bearcats this afternoon. But Cincinnati needs a win to try and stem the backslide they've been on ever since getting out to a 12-0 start to their season. Let's look at the matchup.
Justin Jackson is a game-time decision for Cincinnati with an ankle injury. If he can't play (he missed the Bearcats' last two games), expect to see more of giant 7'1" center David Nyarsuk.
This could be a very low-scoring game, and we may have to issue a #TreeWatch as things unfold. The Bearcats have a terrific halfcourt defense that limits opponents to 38.7% shooting. KenPom lists them at 15th in defensive efficiency, 11th in effective FG% defense, and 7th in blocked shot percentage. They also lead the Big East in rebounds per game (40.4), and excel on the offensive glass. But they also struggle to shoot the ball. The Bearcats only shoot 40.3% themselves, and they've scored 55 or less in six of their last 11 games. Cincinnati is also a bad free-throw shooting team, if the game is close late.
USF comes into this game with two straight wins and carrying as much momentum and confidence as they've had since the calendar flipped to 2013. Still, Cincinnati's defense, while lacking in size, presents a much tougher challenge than DePaul or UConn did. The Bulls will have to make some contested shots or push the ball up the floor for easier baskets to stay in this one.