The 12-seeded Bulls made history on Wednesday, with a thorough 65-54 win over California in the first-round in Dayton. The win was the first NCAA Tournament win for South Florida ever and continued a strong season for the Bulls, who have won 21 games thus far. The total included a 12-6 finish in the Big East, good for a tied for fourth place in the league standings.
The Owls will join the Big East in basketball in two years, but took care of business in the Atlantic-10 this year, capturing the regular-season title. Temple could not carry that momentum into the A-10 Tournament though, bowing to Massachusetts in the quarterfinals, 77-71. Still, with 24 wins on the season, Fran Dunphy's team earned an at-large bid, picking up a five-seed. The Owls hold a 32-29 tournament record with this being its 30th all-time appearance.
This is the first meeting between these two teams on the hardwood. The winner of this game will take on either Michigan or Ohio University in the round of 32.
Stan Heath's squad relies on strong defensive play and it was once again on display in Dayton, as the Bulls handled the Golden Bears to advance. USF held Cal to a meager .362 shooting, including a mere .214 from three-point range (3-of-14). While the defensive effort was expected, the team's offensive efficiency was a little off the norm. The Bulls shot .571 from the floor overall, including a red-hot .667 in the first half. Four Bulls finished in double figures, led by Victor Rudd Jr.'s 15 points. Anthony Collins added 12 points, while Augustus Gilchrist and Jawanza Poland chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Bulls came into the tournament allowing just 56.9 ppg to rank among the nation's elite defensive squads. Its a good thing too, because the offensive numbers are lacking to say the least. The team entered Wednesday netting just 59.2 ppg, without a single player averaging double digits. Gilchrist is tops on the team at 9.6 ppg. Rudd (8.7 ppg), Collins (8.5 ppg) and Poland (8.5 ppg) provide limited depth.
The Owls can certainly appreciate strong defensive play, as their distinguished history was based on a "defense-first" mentality. Times have changed though and coach Dunphy bring a strong offensive squad into the postseason. The Owls averaging a strong 76.0 ppg, doing so on a healthy .476 shooting. Temple possesses a potent one-two punch in the backcourt in the form of Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt. Moore leads the team and ranked second in the A-10 in scoring at 17.7 ppg. Wyatt is right behind, ranking third in the conference at 17.1 ppg. Fellow guard Juan Fernandez round out the top scoring threats on the team at 11.4 ppg. All three guards doled out over 100 assists on the year, and the trio combined for 174 three-pointers. Rahir Hollis- Jefferson (9.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Micheal Eric (9.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg) provide balance up front.