Only eight teams remain in the Big East Tournament, and on Thursday night, we are going to get a great chance to see two good teams in action, as the South Florida Bulls take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The Bulls definitely aren’t a lock yet for the NCAA Tournament, but they are definitely in a position where they can control their own destiny. A win over the Villanova Wildcats yesterday really didn’t do all that much, but it did keep USF going in this tournament and gave it the great opportunity to get the job done in this one to hopefully solidify its spot on the dance floor. It would be awfully hard to leave the Bulls out of the field of 68 if they won this one, as they would have 14 wins in the Big East, including recent victories against Notre Dame, Louisville, and Cincinnati, all of which are surely going to be dancing. There’s not much here out of conference save for a win against Cleveland State, but losses to fellow bubble teams like Southern Miss, VCU (though we know that the Rams are in the field now with the CAA auto-bid), and Connecticut won’t help matters. It would probably also help the Bulls if they played slightly prettier ball. They have only scored 80 points or more in two games all season long, and you have to go way back to the beginning of the season to find those games. This could be the only team in the field to not have a single player averaging double digits in scoring per game, and it could be one of the only teams averaging under 60 points per game as well.
Head Coach Mike Bray knows that his Irish have nothing that they have to prove in the Big East Tournament. Typically, this team doesn’t do all that well here at MSG in March, and in this case, it really isn’t going to make that much of a difference. Notre Dame is still the only team in the land that can say that it has a win over the Syracuse Orange this year, and though its 21-10 record looks a lot like the 20-12 record that South Florida has, the resume for the Irish looks a heck of a lot better. There are fewer bad losses and a heck of a lot of quality wins to fall back on, and the Selection Committee will also realize what a great job this team has done even though it lost Tim Abromaitis, its heart and soul, at the beginning of the season for the year.
The Final Word: Notre Dame dominated and won by 11 points when these two teams met earlier this year, and we just don’t see how anything less is going to happen in this one. South Florida is clearly the inferior team in our eyes, and a loss to the Irish on Thursday will leave it sweating on Selection Sunday.
South Florida Bulls vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Free Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.