South Florida now a NCAA Tournament threat after a dominating win against California in the First Four
Two questions were answered very quickly Wednesday night at UD Arena.
1. Did South Florida deserve a bid?
2. Why did the Pac-12 only get two bids?
Answer: Cal’s 32 minute embarrassment at the hands of the Bulls. The NCAA should force Cal to write apology letters to Drexel, Oral Roberts, and Washington for Wednesday nights’ drumming.
California really didn’t have a chance from the start. South Florida forced Cal to miss the their first five shots. The Bulls suffocating defense held the Bears to a 5-for-24 first half shooting.
South Florida did what they do best: limit their opponents opportunities. They slowed the down the paced, but ran when they wanted to.
Cal ended the game on a 29-8 run, which cut the South Florida lead down to a 11. But a 65-54 final score was not indicative of how good South Florida looked.
South Florida has definitely put themselves in the conversation as an upset threat. The Bulls proved they can slow down an offense and limited Pac-12 Player of the Year Jorge Gutierrez to 11 points, eight of those coming with the game out of reach.
Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore, and Khalif Wyatt all experienced members of last season’s tournament team all average over 11 points per game (17 per game for Moore and Wyatt). The three guards will do a better job of creating shots as opposed to the Cal backcourt.
Temple is also battle tested. The Owls are coming out of a better conference than the Pac-12 and have won a game in the NCAA Tournament last season.
South Florida forced Cal’s starting backcourt to a combined 7-for-25 and will need the same lockdown defense on the perimeter in order to advance to the third round.
Another key factor for South Florida is the play of freshman point guard Anthony Collins. Early on the freshman controlled the game, offensively and defensively. When he gets in the lane, it is hard to stop the USF offense.
Tip is scheduled for 9:50 Friday night from Nashville, Tenn.