1. USF can guard. They’ve been a solid defensive team all year, holding opponents to fewer than 60 points per game overall. They hustle and scrap, and could end up beating SU to rebounds and loose balls all night long. (The good news is, they don’t create all that many turnovers.)
2. USF plays a very… slow… game. Part of the reason they’ve held opponents to low scoring totals is that they play the entire game at a very deliberate pace. USF attempts only 49 field goals per game, easily the fewest in the Big East. (The next lowest is Georgetown at 53 spg; for comparison, SU attempts 60 shots per game.) In fact only 16 teams in the nation attempt shots at a lower rate. Teams that have had success against SU this year are those who slow the pace to a crawl and make the Orange grind it out in the half-court.
3. While USF has no stud scorers, they do feature a veritable buffet table of mid-level talent. Any one of their dudes could get hot and “go off” against the zone. It’s the kind of thing that happens a couple times a season, and we haven’t really seen it yet, unless you count Gilvydas “Arvydas Sabonis” Birutas. And they have decent size, too, which might help them attack the middle of the zone effectively. If they somehow get someone going on a hot streak, suddenly the entire dynamic changes in their favor.
4. With two rivalry games remaining on the Orange schedule, this has the potential to be a classic “trap” game. The players could conceivably get caught looking ahead to Saturday’s ESPN Gameday showdown in Connecticut. The Dome crowd will probably be flat too, and small — a weeknight game against South Florida is one of the weakest draws on the schedule. I can easily see SU coming out flat in this one — after all, this is a team they “should” beat — and having trouble matching USF’s energy.
5. The gray uniforms. Bad things happen when SU messes around with “alternates”.
This is not to say that I think SU will actually lose. Just that I am more concerned with this game against USF than any previous game against USF (even the one we lost). Don’t take this one lightly.