Larry Ness' 10* PERFECT STORM (20-10 in March): Larry's PERFECT STORM on Marquette came thru just as planned, as BYU was 'done' early in an 88-68 rout. Larry sees a 'storm brewing' in another NCAA venue Friday & it's time to "batten down the hatches" & win with Larry once again. This PERFECT STORM gets Larry's top-rating of 10*s, which have gone 20-10 in BKB s/Mar 1. BE THERE!
Game: South Florida at Temple Mar 16 2012 9:50PM
Grade: Loser (-110)
Reason: My 10* PERFECT STORM is on Temple at 9:50 ET.
South Florida earned the Big East’s No. 6 seed with a 12-6 regular season record but at 19-12, was not assured an at-large bid in the Big Dance. The Bulls got a much-needed win over Villanova in its first Big East tourney game but them blew a late lead vs Notre Dame, losing 57-53 in OT. However, the Bulls did get that at-large invite at 20-13, although they were forced to play in one of the First Four games (against Cal). USF, which doesn’t own a single double-digit scorer, wins with defense and the Bulls brought that suffocating defense to Wednesday’s game in Dayton vs the not-so Golden Bears. USF introduced the Big East's nastiest defense to the NCAA tournament, holding Cal to 13 points in the first half of Wednesday’s game. California managed only five FGs in the first half (three points on free throw) and didn’t make a single FG in the half’s final 8:55 (0-of-10 on FG attempts with two turnovers!). Is it possible for USF’s defense to have been more impressive? That’s a simple answer. No. The key question here is, can the Bulls repeat that kind of effort here vs Temple? I believe that’s a fairly simple answer as well and it’s N-O, as well. South Florida’s top scorer is the 6-10 Gilchrist (9.6-4.9), who is joined up front by the 6-7 Rudd (8.9-4.6), the 6-8 Fitzgerald (8.0-6.6) and the 6-9 Anderson (7.1-5.5). Freshman PG Collins (8.6-5.2 APG) has “learned the ropes” and runs the team. Helping him out on the perimeter are Poland (8.5-3.4) and the 6-6 Robertson (6.7-4.3). In Temple, the Bulls get a team looking for more than just a little to prove. The Owls were rolling along with 11 straight victories (22-5 overall) when they lost Feb 25 at St Joe’s, 82-72. Temple won its final two regular season games but lost its first A-10 tourney game, 77-71 to UMass. Temple is ‘loaded’ on the perimeter with an excellent trio of guards, Moore (17.7-4.3-3.5), Wyatt (17.1-3.2-3.4) and Fernandez (11.4-2.8-3.9). The 6-6 Hollis-Jefferson (9.2-6.5) has had a solid season up front (enters having averaged 11.1 PPG his last seven games) and now that the 6-11 Eric is back healthy (he missed 13 games from Nov 29 through Jan 18 with an injured right knee), the Owls have a solid force inside (Eric averages 9.1 PPG and 8.8 RPG). Temple is NOT a deep team but that won’t matter much here, as the team is well-rested (last played on March 9). USF head coach Stan Heath was awarded the Big East coach of the year award for USF’s turnaround (Bulls were 10-23 / 3-15 last year) and this marks USF’s first NCAA tourney as a Big East representative (just two previous NCAA trips, the most recent coming in 2002). Meanwhile, Temple head coach Fran Dunphy led Penn to NCAA berths in NINE of his 17 years with the Quakers and now is FIVE-for-FIVE with the Owls (it’s Temple’s 30th appearance in an NCAA tournament!). USF didn’t have long to enjoy its Wednesday win, as the team flew to Nashville Thursday for this game, while the Owls wait. I believe Temple owns a HUGE edge in this game due to the scheduling and we saw BYU fall ‘flat’ in a similar quick turnaround yesterday (off a win Tuesday vs Iona) vs Marquette, losing 88-68. Let me note that with the field down to 64 teams, I can report that Temple is 5-2 against the other 63 teams left in the NCAA field while South Florida is just 2-10! The Owls are well-rested (unlike the Bulls), have something to prove after a quick exit from the A-10 tourney and are a veteran team with OUTSTANDING guard play. "This is our last go-round," said senior and leading scorer Ramone Moore. "So however far we can make it, it would be great. I think the Elite Eight you know says a lot about the teams that we had in the past, how great of a tradition Temple basketball has had through the years. And like I said, it would just be great, but I mean we don't want to try to look too far ahead." One last note. Temple has 39 road or neutral-site victories the last three seasons. What a P-E-R-F-E-C-T spot for the Owls!