South Florida Bulls vs. Marquette Golden Eagles Preview and Pick

South Florida Bulls (10-10) +15.5, 145 O/U at Marquette Golden
Eagles (14-4) -15.5, 145 O/U, Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wis., 8 PM
Eastern, Tuesday

by Badger of

The Marquette Golden Eagles will look to improve their 11-0 record at
home in the Bradley Center Tuesday night when they host Big East
Conference foe South Florida.

Dating back to last season the Golden Eagles have won 14 straight at home, including a 79-71 victory over DePaul last Saturday. But
Marquette is a different team on the road, as they have lost all
three of their Big East games away from home (at West Virginia 79-64;
at Louisville 71-51; at Connecticut 89-73) by big margins. Good thing
the Golden Eagles play this one at home.

South Florida will have a huge task on their hands tonight. Not only
are the Golden Eagles hard to beat at home, but the Bulls are simply
terrible on the road. South Florida has never won a Big East road
game (now 0-19 since joining in 2005), and their struggles will be
compounded by the fact that they have lost six straight games (all of
them by double digits) since winning their Big East opener over
Rutgers back on January 2nd.

The oddsmaker has opened the game with Marquette as a 16-
point favorite. A few offshore sportsbooks are listing a total for
the game at 145, while Marquette is a -1,700 on the moneyline while
South Florida is listed at +1,240.

You dont have to look too hard to see a huge difference between
Marquettes home-versus-road numbers. At home the Golden Eagles
average 82 points per game and shoot 48 percent from the floor, while
on the road they barely score over 62 points per game on shooting
more than 10 percent lower.

Point guard Dominic James is a perfect example of this disparity, as
his home/road splits (17.3 ppg/7.3 ppg; 47 FG%/33 FG%) mirror the
teams numbers overall. With wings Jerel McNeal (13.5 ppg), Lazar
Hayward (12.8 ppg) and Wesley Mathews (10.8 ppg) the Golden Eagle
offense features four different players who are good at slashing to
the basket and finishing off the dribble. This will certainly cause
matchup problems for the Bulls.

South Florida first-year head coach Stan Heath didnt inherit much in
terms of offense, as the Bulls are basically a one-man team with
center Kentrell Gransberry being the one. Gransberry had his fifth
double-double of the season last time out versus Louisville (22 pts.,
10 reb.) and averages 17.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game on the

Guards Dominique Jones (15.4 ppg), Chris Howard (10.8 ppg) and Jesus
Verdejo (10.0 ppg) all average double figures in scoring. Jones is a
solid second scoring option, and he shoots 49.3 percent from the floor.

Defensively the Golden Eagles are a strong man-to-man team that
limits opponents to 63.9 points per game. They are especially good at
closing out and getting a hand up on 3-point shots, as their 30.2
percent 3-point percentage against is 21st in the NCAA.

South Floridas biggest weakness is defense. Not only do they allow
nearly 70 points per game (69.8), but they also allow some fairly
decent shooting numbers as well (43 FG%, 36.1 3-pt %).

Marquette has won six straight games versus South Florida head-to-
head dating back to 2000, but all but one of those six games have
been very close games. Marquette needed a McNeal steal and layup at
the buzzer last time out to beat the Bulls, 70-68, and the Bulls have
covered the spread in the last two games.

Both teams have been lousy bets so far this season, with South
Florida going 8-9-1 ATS and Marquette going 6-7 ATS. The Bulls are an
extremely weak 1-12 ATS in their last 13 Big East games though. The
only problem is that the Golden Eagles have covered just two of the
Big East games at home, and are a weak 2-5 ATS in the Big East as well.

Bettors looking for a trend to run with might like the over in this
game. Marquette has gone over the total in 9 of their last 12 Big
East games and 8 of their last 11 games at home. The Bulls have also
gone over the total in four of the six games in their losing streak.

There are no injuries on either team so expect both teams to be
playing at full strength, although Marquettes Dominic James is still
playing with a bum wrist and is one bad fall to the floor away from
missing time.

Badgers Pick: Im sticking with the Golden Eagles recent streak of
starting slow and needing to rally in the closing minutes for a close
win, even against sup-par competition. South Florida has always
played them tough, and the Golden Eagles lack of a true 3-point
shooter wont allow them to pull away too much too fast. Take South
Florida plus the big number in this game.