No. 8 Marquette Golden Eagles (20-2) -9 at South Florida Bulls (7-14) +9 Sun Dome, Tampa, F.L., 7:00PM Eastern, Friday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The Marquette Golden Eagles are still the surprise story of the Big East thus far in the college basketball season. The Golden Eagles are ranked 8th in the nation and will likely flirt with a Top 5 ranking in next weeks poll if they can travel to South Florida and get a victory on the road considering two top 6 teams from the ACC have already dropped to upsets this week. South Florida has really struggled on the court this season bringing up the bottom of the Big East with a 2-7 record in conference play and 7-14 mark overall. However, the Bulls will have a chance to do something no other team has done in the Big East and that is defeat the Marquette Golden Eagles.
Marquette surprisingly sits a top the standings in the Big East. Not Connecticut who is ranked number 1 currently and not Pittsburgh who stayed at the no. 1 spot for many weeks. Thats right the Golden Eagles are the underdogs of the conference, but they have proven time and time again that they are a legitimate threat to the conference. Marquette has been a dangerous force putting the ball in the cylinder this year averaging a strong 81.3 points per game that ranks in the top 10 across the country. The Golden Eagles have also shot a stout 48% as a team from the floor that has contributed to their success. The Golden Eagles will be trying to extend their recent success when they go for their 13th straight victory against South Florida.
South Florida on the other hand has been one of the worst teams in the nation in scoring averaging a dreary 61 points per game. The Bulls scoring offense barely makes it in the top 300 teams in the country to just give you a taste of how poorly they have been able to score. The Bulls have a shot an equally low 40% from the floor and have simply struggled all year long. However, they will get the opportunity to make up for hard times if they can somehow come away with what would be their biggest victory of the season on Friday night.
The book has the initial betting line favoring the No. 8 Marquette Golden Eagles by 9 points even and the over/under total has yet to be released. This may be a line many jump on Marquette considering the Bulls have lost 4 out of their last 5 including 3 straight by double figures.
South Florida will look primarily to the play of sophomore guard Dominique Jones. For the Bulls to have a legitimate shot, Jones will need a big performance on Friday night since he has carried the Bulls in their wins this season. Jones is averaging a strong 18.3 points per game which ranks 5th in the conference. Unfortunately, Jones also leads the team in rebounding considering he only averaged 5 boards per contest. South Florida ranks towards the bottom of the conference and nation in terms of rebounding. The Bulls must find a way to get some 2nd chance opportunities and simply play better than they have all season to beat the Golden Eagles.
Marquette has quite possibly the best back court in the conference if not the entire nation. Guards Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal have a dynamic combination and both rank in the top 5 in scoring in the Big East averaging right at 20 points per game a piece. However, junior forward Lazar Hayward is just as important for the Golden Eagles as he has controlled the inside game. Hayward is posting 16 points per game while pulling down 9 rebounds. Hayward and the two star guards give Marquette many dangerous different ways to attack from any point on the court and they will try to conquer a South Florida team that has been struggling in recent weeks.
Marquette is 5-1 in their last 6 games ATS while sporting a healthy 4-1 ATS record on the road in their previous 5 games. South Florida on the other hand has lost 3 straight ATS and only 1-5 SU in the last 6 games. The Bulls are also a measly 0-5 SU in their last 5 against Marquette.
Jay’s Pick: Golden Eagles win by 20.