Can't lie: we're totally marking out for this one. USF can't really lose this game since they're universally expected to lose this game (if that makes sense), so let's see how hard they can punch the champs in this third go-around. The Bulls lost to UConn by 42 in January and by 23 last week. Can they make a bigger dent in that spread tonight?
UConn has played two of their best periods of the season in the first halves of both their previous USF games. Their first half points per possession in the Sun Dome last week? 1.459. That's Inception levels of unconscious, and likely unsustainable against a good defensive team (which USF is: top 10 in the nation in FG%).
If you want a formula for USF to actually win this game, This would be it:
* Force 20+ turnovers.
* Hold UConn to under 30% from 3 (remember Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis shoots over 50% by herself).
* Get two-time National Player of The Year Breanna Stewart in foul trouble early
* Have the refs blow the whistles constantly. The tighter by the refs the better.
* USF's Laura Ferreria, Tamara Taylor, Shalethia Stringfield,& Maria Jespersen (who didn't play last Monday vs. UConn) combine to shoot over 50% from 3.
* Courtney Williams hits peak Courtney Williams, and does things that make you fall off your couch. Again.
* Alisia Jenkins plays 40 minutes with no foul trouble, and gets at least 15 rebounds.
And then... you'd still need most/all the breaks and a lot of luck.
It sounds crazy, but the competition gets a lot easier for the Bulls in the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina won the SEC Tournament last night, is the #3 team in America... and they lost to UConn in February by more than USF did last week.
A win is obviously a reach so if you want something to root for tonight, hope that USF is clicking on all cylinders in their last test before The Dance. Watch for crisp ball movement, good help on UConn's ball reversal (they are deadly with skip passes and penetration and kick), and all them green & gold 3's to get so wet. The Bulls have the athletes and talent to play with literally any team in America: except maybe the one they'll play for the third time this season tonight.
Who: USF vs. #1 UConn
What: The AAC Championship Game
Where: Mohegan Sun
When: 7 p.m., ESPN
Why: Because this is the best basketball team USF has ever had. They're a joy to behold, and you should love them and the beautiful way they play. Alisia Jenkins is everything that you'd ever want in a teammate, and Courtney Williams might be the best student-athlete to ever compete for USF.
Let's do this.