Tonight the South Florida Bulls and Seton Hall Pirates meet up in the first game of the 2013 Big East Tournament. Neither team covered themselves with glory during the regular season, each finishing 3-15 in conference play. But hope springs eternal, at least for one day, and the winner will advance to face a reeling Syracuse team on Wednesday afternoon.
Let's take a look at tonight's matchup:
When the Bulls and Pirates met on January 23, Seton Hall came away with a 55-47 win in a game that was unrelentingly bland and boring. (In Rumble in the Garden's roundtable post, I voted it my least favorite Big East game of the season.) USF shot only 34% from the field and got pounded on the boards -- Seton Hall had more defensive rebounds (26) than USF had total rebounds (22). Despite 17 turnovers, the Pirates never trailed in the game. Fuquan Edwin had 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Mobley made an unexpected return to the lineup that night and added 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Mobley has since been shut down for the year with a lingering shoulder injury.
Ever since starting out 12-2, the Hall has been a mess. They lost 15 of their last 17 games, their turnover rate is still dismal, and they were only sometimes competitive against the top-tier teams in the Big East. In fact, USF is the only team the PIrates beat by more than one point in Big East play. (DePaul and Villanova were their other conference wins.) If the Bulls can shoot a better percentage from the field, take better advantage of Seton Hall's inevitable mistakes, and grab a few more rebounds, then they may be the ones advancing to Wednesday's second round while the Pirates become the dreaded first team out of the tournament.