Mar 7, 2012; New York, NY, USA; South Florida Bulls forward Augustus Gilchrist (24) is defended by Villanova Wildcats forward Markus Kennedy (21) during the first half of the second round at the Big East Tournament held at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
After a nice win versus Villanova in the second round of the Big East Tournament, USF is basically playing with house money. The teams remaining are ranked (#2 Syracuse, #9 Marquette, #13 Georgetown, #23 Notre Dame), on the bubble and tied with USF in the regular season (Cincinnati), the defending national and Big East tourney champs (Connecticut), or Louisville, who was ranked most of the season. So what can past results tell us?
While the sample size is small, looking over the first three years of results for the current Big East Tournament format should give USF fans some hope for the game against Notre Dame on Thursday. In the quarterfinal round since the tournament went to 16 teams in 2009, the teams that won in the second round on Wednesday have a 6-6 record in Thursday's quarterfinal round.
Also, there's something to be said for USF's slow-it-down pace in this tournament format. Teams that held opponents to under 60 points in the second round games are 3-1 in the quarterfinal round, while teams giving up more than 60 points in the second round are only 3-5. With one team playing the second of back-to-back nights, and another playing its first game, keeping it slow in the second round seems to save energy for the next game. It's better to not have run up and down the floor much in the first night, and to instead play a slower half-court game, like USF played against Villanova.
USF also only had two players play more than 30 minutes on Wednesday, guards Hugh Robertson and Anthony Collins. Having the bigs in the front court play less than 30 minutes will ideally keep them fresher for Thursday's game.