Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#819 East Carolina 128 vs.
#820 USF -7.5
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Chris Kubala

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A pair of teams from the AAC take the floor down in the Sunshine State. The East Carolina Pirates are on the road as they make the trip to face the South Florida Bulls Wednesday night. East Carolina comes in off a 67-63 home win over Temple Sunday afternoon in their most recent contest. South Florida was dropped 78-71 on the road by Connecticut in their previous game Sunday afternoon. The Bulls own a 10-9 advantage in the all-time series between the teams though it was the Pirates taking a 62-59 home win in the first matchup this year on January 7.

East Carolina Pirates Seeking Back to Back Wins

East Carolina has been up and down this season and they have work to do in order to get back to the .500 mark on the year. Joe Dooley’s club is 11-17 overall and 5-10 in the AAC entering this contest. The Pirates won their opener and then promptly dropped seven of their next eight games to start the year 2-7. East Carolina quickly responded with four straight wins and six victories in a seven-game stretch to climb to 8-8. Their lone loss in that stretch was a six-point road defeat to Wichita State. Since then, the Pirates have dropped nine of their last 12 games with a sweep of Tulane the lone wins on the board before downing Temple Sunday.

The Pirates are putting up an average of just 68.5 points per game so far this season, which puts them 258th in scoring offense this season. East Carolina collects 35.0 rebounds per game while dishing out 14 assists per contest. The Pirates have been struggling on the defensive end of the floor as they come in 223rd in scoring defense by allowing 71 points a night. Jayden Gardner leads the team with 20.2 points plus 9.6 rebounds per game on the season. He is one of two players averaging in double figures this season as Tristen Newton averages 10.2 points a night. Brandon Suggs, Tyrie Jackson, Tremont Robinson-White, J.J. Miles and Bitumba Baruti all are going to be looked to contribute for the Pirates to have success. East Carolina is shooting 41.7 percent from the field as a team this season. The Pirates knock down 5.4 triples a night on just 28.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. East Carolina has to be better than their current 72.5 percent mark at the charity stripe.

The KenPom numbers show that East Carolina might be fortunate to be as close to .500 as they are as the team simply doesn’t move the needle much in any facet. East Carolina is 235th in the nation in offensive efficiency and 170th in defensive efficiency on the season. The Pirates are 304th in effective field goal percentage (46.5 percent) and stand 341st in three-point shooting this season. On defense, they are in the middle of the pack at best in most categories though they are 118th in block percentage (9.8 percent) this season. The Pirates play at a fast pace as they are 59th in tempo with 70.5 possessions per game.

South Florida Bulls Hope to Regroup

South Florida has struggled in the second half of the season and that has really hurt their chances at a postseason bid. The team comes in 11-16 overall and just 4-10 in the conference this season. After a solid start where the team started the year 6-4, things have unraveled since that point in time. Since that point, the team has dropped 12 of 17 games, including their last four coming into this one. South Florida has a couple of solid wins on their resume as they downed Furman at home and Loyola Chicago on a neutral floor. On the flip side, Brian Gregory’s team has a couple of horrible losses, falling to IUPUI at home and on the road to East Carolina this season.

The Bulls are struggling offensively with only 62.1 points per game, which is 340th in the nation in scoring offense. South Florida struggles on the glass as they collect 33.3 rebounds per contest and dish out a measly 9.9 assists a night. The Bulls are sound defensively, ranking 51st in the nation by holding opposing teams to 62.2 points per game. David Collins leads the team with 14 points plus 3.7 rebounds per contest. Laquincy Rideau contributes 12.7 points per game while Justin Brown, Ezacuras Dawson III, Michael Durr, Rashun Williams and Xavier Casteneda all have to step up and contribute. The Bulls do miss Alexis Yetna, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice leading into the season. He averaged 19.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last season and led the AAC with 15 double-doubles. South Florida shoots 41.1 percent from the field as a team on the year. The Bulls drain 6.9 triples per game while shooting only 31 percent from beyond the arc. South Florida is atrocious at the free throw line as they convert just 64.4 percent of their attempts this season.

The Bulls are 66th in defensive efficiency this season according to KenPom.com as their defense has been their calling card. South Florida struggles when teams actually get a shot up as they are 244th in effective field goal percentage defense (51 percent) this season. On the plus side, they are 14th in turnover percentage, forcing a turnover on 25.4 percent of opponent’s possessions. The Bulls are 50th in offensive rebounding percentage allowed at 24.9 percent on the season. South Florida is a methodical team ranked 330th in tempo with an average of 64.6 possessions per game this season.

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Both teams have had their problems putting points on the board at times this season as they are better on the defensive end of the floor. South Florida is good at forcing turnovers and making opposing teams beat themselves. The problem for the Bulls is when the opposition actually gets shots up because they have a tough time keeping up offensively. East Carolina has a solid big man in Gardner to help carry the load but there’s not a lot of reliable secondary options on the offensive end. The Pirates are just 1-9 on the road this season. While they covered at home in the first meeting outright as a 3.5-point underdog, you have to give the advantage to South Florida here.

Prediction: South Florida Bulls -8.5

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Both teams have offensive issues coming into this game. East Carolina is 278th in field goal percentage defense and 344th in three-point shooting this season. On the flip side of that equation, South Florida is a dismal 310th in the nation in field goal percentage and 293rd in three-point shooting this season. To add to the problems, the Bulls are just 330th in the nation in free throw shooting so you can't count on them earning points at the charity stripe. Both teams struggle on the offensive end here and keeps this one in a low-scoring affair where the winner may not crack 65 points. Look for this one to end up under the total.

Prediction: 128
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.