OK, I'll level with you: these game previews are getting harder and harder to write. USF's play has been so up-and-down recently that it's difficult to guess which Bulls team is going to show up on a given night.
USF's last four games were: their best game of the season, against a now-Top 25 SMU club (who had just drubbed them in Dallas); a close road loss to then-unbeaten Cincinnati; a sloppy performance against a one-man UCF team in which the Bulls were lucky to escape with a win; and a poor defensive showing against Rutgers. Stan Heath has criticized his team's defense of late, saying "I saw defensive lapses more than anything else" about the Rutgers game.
Connecticut is led by Shabazz Napier, a rare case of a player who went from erratic and talented as a freshman to all-around star as an upperclassman. He leads the Huskies in points (17.7), rebounds (5.5), and assists (5.5). Ryan Boatwright and DeAndre Daniels also top 10 ppg. Fourth-leading scorer Niels Giffey is a fan favorite. Omar Calhoun, a star freshman from last season, is struggling as a sophomore.
UConn is one of the nation's best three-point shooting teams (40.1%), while USF is now DEAD FREAKING LAST at 25.4%. Like many three-point shooting teams, UConn can be very streaky. They fell behind 46-26 against Houston, ran off a 21-3 run to get back in the game, but lost in overtime. More recently, they lost to Cincinnati when they went ice-cold in the second half, but blasted UCF with a 26-12 run to end the first half.
Here's our advanced statistical super-scientific preview of tonight's game:
I don't know that the numbers do us much good here. (The genuine chart is here, if you're curious.) USF's ability to win games seems dictated less by season-long trends and more by which team shows up on a given night. If USF can defend well, get rebounds, and put the ball in the basket at a reasonable rate, an upset is not out of the question. USF usually plays UConn close (3 of the last 7 games in the series have gone to overtime). But how USF will play tonight is anybody's guess.