The UConn Huskies return to action tonight, taking on USF at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida at 7:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Coming off a 65-60 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday, UConn (19-8, 9-5) will look to return to its winning ways and seal its 20th victory of the season over a Bulls team that has been playing better as of late despite having a down season overall.
USF (7-21, 4-11) ranks in the bottom of the American Athletic Conference in nearly every statistical category. However, the Bulls have won two straight and overlooking them could spell disaster for the Huskies- who can ill-afford to take a bad loss.
Like UConn, USF has a talented freshman point guard in Jahmal McMurray who leads the team in scoring (15.7) and assists (2.6). Senior Jaleel Cousins is seventh in the conference in rebounding, grabbing 8.1 boards per game, and fourth in blocks (1.6). The Bulls' adjusted offensive efficiency rating is 282nd in the country, which should be exploited by the Huskies' defense which dropped to eighth in the nation after the loss to the Bearcats.
UConn is 15-2 all time against USF—including a 69-43 victory in last year's AAC tournament—winning the last five overall. In the last meeting, Daniel Hamilton scored 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting while Amida Brimah anchored the defensive effort with five blocks.
The Huskies went 2-2 in a crucial four-game stretch and have a 93 percent chance of making the NCAA tournament, according to teamrankings.com. But a loss to USF will seriously decrease those chances. UConn's adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 108.7 is 81st in the country and should have a distinct advantage over the Bulls' defense (102.6).
A win for the Huskies would help them keep up with Cincinnati, Tulsa and SMU in a tight race atop the American standings. Temple, currently in first place, should win its final three games (UCF, Memphis at home, at Tulane) and lock up the top seed, but of course anything can happen.