South Florida Bulls vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish -2 – Big East Quarterfinals
Oh how fickle we can be, right? Just twenty four hours ago I wrote pumping up the Bulls and their tournament resume and their steady, solid play down the stretch, and how the mere two points they were laying against Villanova was a joke and one of the easiest covers of the month (I was right, by the way… just sayin’). Now? It is the nearly opposite situation. It is Notre Dame who is the meager two-point favorite against the Bulls, and the line still feels insane! How is Notre Dame laying just two on a neutral floor against USF? This feels like a 4.5 or 5-point line to me. So let’s dig in, shall we??
USF played well enough to handle Villanova last night in the Round Two finale (which wrapped up after midnight), but they didn’t look fantastic doing it. They were efficient enough to win; excellent defensively and steady with the basketball, but their offensive struggles still remain evident. They shot just 42% against a pedestrian Villanova defense, which is actually an improvement from some of their other shooting performances in February. They are going to have to shoot the basketball well tonight to keep up with Notre Dame.
The Irish had an odd finish, losing two of three including a three-point loss to struggling St. John’s and a complete no-show against Georgetown where they were held to 41 points. However, prior to that they reeled off ten consecutive wins averaging nearly 70ppg in the process. This team has excellent shooters and a bevy of upper classmen leadership. They also have a nice advantage in the fact that the Bulls were diving for loose balls at midnight last night while they were home resting up for tonight. USF has likely done enough to feel relatively safely included in the Big Dance, so much like Seton Hall last night, a little of the urgency and desperation will have subsided as well.
These teams met only once this season, with the Irish dispatching of the Bulls with relative ease, 60-49 up in South Bend. Historically the Irish have owned the matchup as well, though in college hoops I tend to discount previous years performance more than in the NBA with the constant fluctuation of the rosters and team chemistry. What this one really comes down to, is you have a better team with an extra day’s rest playing on a neutral floor ONLY laying TWO points. It’s too good to pass up. Give me the Irish laying the two to advance to the semi-finals.
Free Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -2