There are 16 “Round of 32” games on Saturday and Sunday as the most exciting weekend of the sports calendar continues. As we always do every March here at MSF, we try to cover you with previews, informed and reasoned predictions, and pertinent viewing info as soon as we can get it posted.
In this post, we preview the Midwest Region matchup between the 13th-seeded Bobcats of Ohio and the 12th-seeded Bulls of South Florida. If you had this matchup in your bracket, congrats!
South Florida-Ohio Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #12 South Florida v #13 Ohio in Midwest Region
- South Florida-Ohio Date: Sunday, 3/18
- South Florida-Ohio Tip Time: 7:10 ET
- South Florida-Ohio Location: Nashville
- South Florida-Ohio TV: TBS
- South Florida-Ohio Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
- South Florida-Ohio Point Spread: TBA
- Tickets: South Florida-Ohio Tickets
- Tickets: Midwest Regional Tickets in St. Louis
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South Florida-Ohio Analysis and Prediction
After adding to Friday’s upset tally, Ohio and South Florida will square off on Sunday in the second round. The Bobcats led for most of the game and withstood a late Michigan rally to win by five behind 21 points from D.J. Cooper. The Bulls bounced back from a 15-point first half to score 43 in the second, and Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd Jr. scored 17 points each in the win over Temple.
Ohio will be challenged by a lights out South Florida defense that ranks 15th in defensive efficiency. The Bulls boast strong field goal percentage defense both inside and outside of the arc, which doesn’t bode well for an OU team that doesn’t shoot particularly well.
Instead, the Bobcats will need to rely on a relatively high offensive rebounding percentage to create second chance points. USF ranks just 126th in defensive rebounding percentage, so that’s at least one area where Ohio can try to establish an advantage. Otherwise, the Bobcats may struggle to put points on the board consistently.
On the other end of the floor, keep an eye on the turnover battle. Ohio is second in the nation in turnover rate, while the Bulls rank just outside of the Top 300. If the Bobcats can create turnovers and get some easy buckets as a result, their chances of springing the upset increase exponentially.
South Florida should also be able to do some work on the offensive glass, because Ohio ranks 245th in defensive rebounding percentage. Much like the Bobcats, the Bulls don’t shoot it all that well, so second chance points could be pivotal.
In terms of individual matchups, the best one will be at the point between USF freshman Anthony Collins and Ohio’s D.J. Cooper. Both guys are in complete control of their respective offenses, and it should be a fun matchup to watch.
The Bulls are one of the streakiest teams I have seen over the course of the season, as they alternate between prolonged scoring droughts where they can’t make a thing and other stretches where they are an offensive juggernaut.
Regardless of their offensive struggles at times, South Florida’s defense is a constant factor, and ultimately that will give them the edge in this game. Many people (including myself) questioned South Florida’s inclusion in the tournament, but I like their chances to win this game and make the Sweet Sixteen.
Predicted Winner: South Florida
South Florida Bulls Team Capsule
- Conference: Big East
- Record: 20-13 (12-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 7-3
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 3-10
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Louisville, Vermont
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut, Georgetown, Kansas, Marquette, Notre Dame (2), Southern Mississippi, Syracuse, VCU, West Virginia
- Player to Watch: Anthony Collins (6’1” G, Fr.) – 8.5 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 50.0 FG%
South Florida Bottoms Line:
The Bulls were sweating out their NCAA Tournament fate despite 12 Big East wins, largely because the bulk of those victories came against the worst teams in the league. But late wins over Cincinnati and Louisville were enough to satisfy the committee. USF has no double-digit scorers, but they do have seven players averaging between 6.8 and 9.6 points.
Freshman point guard Anthony Collins missed the first few games of the season, but his presence and ability to get into the lane have been critical for the Bulls. Five players grab at least four rebounds per game, led by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, who also scores 8.0 points per game and makes over 41 percent from deep. Big man Augustus Gilchrist leads the team in scoring at 9.6 points per game, while Jawanza Poland provides athleticism on the wing.
The Bulls play at one of slower paces in all of college basketball, so don’t count on them lighting up the scoreboard. They are in the middle of the pack in terms of offensive efficiency and rank 293rd in three-point shooting and 303rd in turnover rate. The Bulls are much better defensively and finished 16th in adjusted efficiency. They are in the Top 30 in both two- and three-point defense, and limit their opponents’ trips to the free throw line. Expect a low-scoring grinder when USF takes the floor, but given their struggles against tournament caliber teams, their NCAA run could be a short one.
Ohio Bobcats Team Capsule
- Conference: MAC
- Record: 27-7 (11-5 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 8-2
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 2-1
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Lamar, UNC-Asheville
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Louisville
- Player to Watch: D.J. Cooper (5’11” G, Jr.) – 14.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.7 apg, 2.4 spg
Ohio Bottoms Line:
The Bobcats finished third in a loaded MAC East, but they knocked off the top two teams in Cleveland to win the MAC Tournament. Ohio ranks in the Top Five in defensive turnover rate and steal percentage, and they have also done a great job at shutting down opposing three-point shooters. Offensively, their numbers don’t jump off the page, but they have been effective on the offensive glass. The Bobcats have nine players who log at least 11 minutes per game, with five of them scoring at least 8.9 points as well.
D.J. Cooper makes this team go, leading the squad in points, assists, and steals and ranking among the nation’s leaders in assist rate and steal percentage. Ohio State transfer Walter Offutt is the team’s other double figure scorer, while Reggie Keely and Ivo Baltic anchor the front line and combine for 18.2 points and 10.2 rebounds. Nick Kellogg, son of former NBA player and current broadcaster Clark, is the team’s top shooter and hits 41.8 percent from three-point range and 90.9 percent from the stripe.
Related: Jump to our Midwest Region Bracket Breakdown
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Then have a fun, exuberant, responsible St. Patrick’s Day celebration tomorrow, enjoying a Guinness or two while watching basketball. What could be better?