Oracle insight: USF against top-five competition
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 23:02
The USF men's basketball program has never defeated a team ranked in the top five in the country. Of course, this year's surging Bulls have a penchant for rewriting school history.
Three days after completing a sweep of Pittsburgh — ensuring their first-ever winning record in Big East play and tying a school-record winning streak — the Bulls could break another record by beating No. 2 Syracuse in New York tonight.
Tonight's game will be the seventh time since joining the Big East in 2005 that the Bulls match up with the nation's elite. This game features the Big East's top scoring offense, Syracuse's 76.8 points per game, against the league's best scoring defense, with USF allowing 58.2 points per game.
The biggest key for the Bulls will be controlling the pace of the game with point guard Anthony Collins slowing things down. With a notably athletic roster, Syracuse will hope to run the floor at every opportunity and score fast break points.
As USF has a chance to notch a historic win, The Oracle takes a look back at how the Bulls fared against elite competition last season.
Dec. 31, 2010
No. 4 Connecticut 66,
USF 61 OT
On New Year's Eve 2010, USF played its best-ever game against a top five team. The Bulls took a 0-2 Big East record to Connecticut to play the No. 4 team and eventual national champion. The game was as close as could be — tied 28-28 going into the locker room at halftime, and tied at 58-58 when the regulation buzzer sounded.
The Huskies defense was the story of the overtime period, as they rode their zone defense to a tough victory, holding the Bulls scoreless for the majority of overtime and outscoring them 8-3 in the period. UConn earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and rode it all the way to Houston's Reliant Stadium, defeating Butler to win the national title.
Feb. 16, 2011
No. 4 Pittsburgh 67, USF 55
In the first of two games against No. 4 Pittsburgh last season, the Bulls flashed their potential against national power once again, refusing to allow a seven-point half time deficit to deter them. With eight minutes to go, the Bulls sliced the Panthers lead to two points. However, that momentum was short-lived.
After USF failed on three consecutive possessions to tie the game, the Panthers proved their talent by going on a game-ending 14-2 scoring run. The loss was yet another disappointment for the Bulls in a season that saw just 10 total victories, and just three in the conference.
March 2, 2011
No. 5 Pittsburgh 66, USF 50
Hosting the No. 5 team in the nation in a rematch of their earlier loss, the Bulls stood strong in the first half of the Senior Night game, taking a 27-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime. But all hope for a milestone victory was lost when the Panthers unleashed a 25-7 run at the beginning of the second half and raced all the way to a 16-point win.
Pittsburgh clinched a share of the Big East title in the fairly easy victory and earned a No. 1 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament.