NCAA Basketball Seton Hall Pirates (12-6, 4-8 ATS) vs. South Florida Bulls (12-7, 11-6 ATS), Sun Dome, Tampa, Thursday, Jan. 28th, 7 PM Eastern, ESPN2
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Pirates -2/Bulls +2
A couple of Big East teams who can’t afford many more losses if they hope to go dancing in March meet when the South Florida Bulls host the Seton Hall Pirates Thursday night in Tampa.
Most college basketball sportsbooks opened this game with Seton Hall favored by two points, with the total set at 145.5. And on the moneyline the Pirates are giving -130, with South Florida getting +110 as a home dog.
Seton Hall returned four starters this season from a team that went 17-15 last year, and with a trio of talented transfers the Pirates were thought to have a decent chance to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years. And they started off 7-0, albeit against a rather weak early schedule. Then they began the Big East season by losing their first four games, two in overtime. The Hall has shown a little life recently, though, winning three of their last four games, although while they played well for most of the game vs. Louisville a week ago they almost gave victory away at the end. The Pirates then picked up a resume-building win last Sunday, beating Pittsburgh 64-61.
So at 3-4 in Big East play the Pirates are tied for tenth place in the conference standings.
South Florida also returned four starters this season, from a team that went 9-22 last year, but just wasn’t though to have the overall talent and depth to contend for an upper-division conference finish. The Bulls did get off to a 10-2 start this season, which included a win over Virginia, which at the moment would have to qualify as quality. But USF also lost its first four conference games, three by 17 points and more. The Bulls have picked themselves up just a bit lately, winning two of their last three games, and covering the pointspread three times in a row. Last Saturday South Florida pulled off a minor miracle, rallying from nine points down with under a minute to go to force overtime before winning at Providence 109-105.
So the Bulls, at 2-5 in conference play, are tied for 12th in the Big East and in danger of losing touch with any NCAA tournament hopes they might harbor.
On the season Seton Hall is shooting 45% from the field, 33% from 3-point land and 66% from the free-throw line. Defensively the Pirates are allowing opponents to shoot 41.5% from the floor, and they’re outrebounding foes by 1.6 RPG.
South Florida is shooting 45% from the floor this season, 30% from long range and 67% from the line. The Bulls are allowing opponents to shoot 42% from the field and are outboarding them by 1.8 RPG.
On the injury front the Bulls are still playing without 6-10 sophomore F Gus Gilchrist, who was averaging 19 points and seven rebounds PG before he sprained his ankle back in December. He’s nearing a return, but isn’t expected back in action for a couple of weeks or so yet.
As a favorite this season, Seton Hall is 4-2 straight up and just 2-4 against the spread. As a home dog, South Florida is 0-2 SU and 0-1-1 ATS.
Pirates games this season are averaging 157 points, but they’ve only gone 4-6 on the totals. Bulls games, meanwhile, are averaging only 135 points, but they’ve gone 8-5 on the OVER/UNDERS.
Last year the Hall swept two games from the Bulls, by scores of 75-60 and 68-54, and they’ve won seven in a row in the series between these two teams.
Sagarin’s PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rates Seton Hall at +5.1 points over South Florida. But factoring in Sagarin’s updated college basketball home-court advantage figure of 4.1, and the Pirates are a one-point favorite over the Bulls for Thursday’s game.
Z-Man’s Pick: God only knows who will cover this one. I do however like the OVER 145!