Golden Eagles host slumping Bulls in Big East battle

The Marquette Golden Eagles will try to continue their dominance at home, as they play host to the South Florida Bulls in a Big East Conference bout on Monday night.

The Bulls have failed to build on their surprise run in the NCAA Tournament last season this year, as they have lost six of their last seven games, all in league play, after a 73-65 setback to Notre Dame on Saturday. USF is 10-9 overall while managing to grab just two wins in six road trips. Next up for the Bull is a matchup with Connecticut, before returning home to face these same Golden Eagles yet again.

Marquette bounced back from a 71-69 loss in overtime against Cincinnati by posting an 81-71 win over Providence on Saturday. The win came in the Bradley Center where the Golden Eagles are a perfect 11-0 this season, while winning 20 straight home games dating back to last season. At 5-1 in league play, Marquette is also just a half game back of Syracuse for the top spot in the Big East. The Golden Eagles have a tough matchup on the road against Louisville next.

The Golden Eagles have absolutely dominated the all-time series with South Florida, 17-3. Marquette routed the Bulls, 67-47, last season to earn its third straight victory against USF.

In their recent loss to Notre Dame, the Bulls allowed the Irish to shoot at a 54 percent clip while being outscored on second-chance points, 17-11. The battle on the boards was a lopsided affair as well, with UND logging twice as many rebounds as did the Bulls (34-17).

At the offensive end of the floor, USF has been very weak this season. The Bulls rank among the bottom two teams in the Big East in scoring (61.7 ppg), assists (12.3 apg) and field goal percentage (.412). The Bulls also struggle on the boards with a -4.7 deficit, while bringing in the second-fewest rebounds per game (32.1 rpg). The Bulls have managed to put forth some strong defensive efforts, allowing just 61 ppg on 41.1 percent shooting. The frontcourt trio of Victor Rudd (10.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg), Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (10.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Jawanza Poland (10.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg) highlight the Bulls' offensive efforts, as they are the only players averaging double figures. Of the three, only Poland shoots better than 40 percent from the floor. Anthony Collins (9.8 ppg, 7.2 apg) is the primary ball handler, and his assist total has him ranked second in the conference.

Marquette dominated on the inside against Providence with a 35-27 edge in rebounds and a 44-24 advantage on points in the paint. Marquette was also the more aggressive team as it earned a 16-4 edge in fast-break points. The Golden Eagles shot 49.2 percent from the floor, while assisting on 16 of their 29 field goals.

The Golden Eagles have had several outings in which they've played exceptional defense. They allow just 62.9 ppg, while holding foes to just 40.4 percent field goal efficiency. At the offensive end, Marquette is netting a respectable 70.5 ppg, while ranking among the top-four teams in the Big East with a .458 field goal percentage. Vander Blue (13.9 ppg) is the top scoring option for the Golden Eagles, and he is coming off a 13-point performance on Saturday before fouling out to extend his streak of games in double figures to eight. Davante Gardner (13.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) has been one of the top bench options in the Big East, with his ability to spark the team on offense and on the glass. Junior Cadougan (9.3 ppg, 4.2 apg) is a threat to both score or set his teammates up with their chance to add to MU's point total.

When they have played at home this season, the Golden Eagles have looked unstoppable. Against a USF squad that struggles to put points on the board, Blue and company should be able to produce at both ends of the floor, thus leaving the Bulls behind.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marquette 75, South Florida 65.