"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, February 07, 2011

USF's big 3 will crash offensive boards to try to repeat upset

A big reason MU is on pace for an 8-seed in the NCAA tournament (Lunardi and Forecast RPI) is because they look so good in the eyeball test as one of the few teams in the country with no double digit losses and no "bad losses" (non-top 100 RPI).

On Wednesday, Davante Gardner returns his second choice and MU returns to USF for the first time since being knocked out of the Top 10 in a shocking upset two years ago yesterday.

What makes USF dangerous is that they are MUs fifth opponent to be dominant on the offensive glass, and MU has looked bad against three of the other four.

Looking at the other games in which MU played against a team ranked in the top 25 in offensive rebounding, MU did register a big win over West Virginia, but lost by its biggest margin of the year to both Pitt and UConn and had its most only loss to a non-RPI Top 25 team in Gonzaga.

3 big offensive rebounders

S. Florida has three big men who crash the boards very well in 4-star Maryland transfer Augustus Gilcrest (6-foot-10), K-State transfer Ron Anderson (6-8) and the 27th best offensive rebounder in the country in Jarrid Famous (6-11). Gilcrest and Wisconsin's Jon Leuer were considered the most similar players by Rivals.

MU clearly has the overall edge in talent, as the inconsistent Gilchrist is the only 4-star recruit on the Bulls squad.

USF has played well enough to beat MU in 5 of 15 games

Looking at Sagarins ratings (MU = 85, USF = 75, but give USF 4 points for home court), the Bulls have played well enough to beat an average MU road performance in 5 of their 15 games against top 100 foes so far. More troubling is that USF has played well enough to beat MU in 4 of their last 9 games.

Based on Sagarin’s ratings, here are the key performances during the five games during which USF would have beaten an “average” MU team on the road this year:

1. vs. BYU. USF took BYU to overtime on a neutral court behind Anderson (8 points, 13 rebounds) and Gilcrest (14,5) early in the year.

2. vs. UConn. Gilcrest may be the biggest variable. In 2007, he reneged on his verbal to Virginia Tech to go to Maryland, but then went to USF after the ACC was going to forfeit a year of eligibility for the intra conference transfer. Gilcrest sat out three games earlier this year for unspecified reasons, but then re-emerged at UConn with a dominant 21,8 performance in an overtime loss.

3. vs. Cincy. The three combined for a very balanced 33,19 in a close loss at Cincy.

4. vs. Providence. It was then Famous who stepped up with a 15,11 to beat Providence, with good balance from Gilcrest (10,7) and Anderson (8,6).

5. vs. WVU. Gilcrest was huge again with a 20,10 in a strong showing at WVU at which Anderson also grabbed 10 rebounds.

The 10 games against top 100 foes during which USF did not play well enough to beat MU include Gilcrest’s 25,10 in a losing effort against Louisville. USF had played very well in four of five games before getting destroyed by Syracuse Saturday in their worst performance of the year.

If MU can make USF play small and/or keep them from dominating their offensive boards while keeping Crowder and Otule out of foul trouble against the bigger opponents, MU can certainly fly out of Florida much happier than they did on the last trip and still on course for an NCAA bid.

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