(12) CALIFORNIA vs. (12) SOUTH FLORIDA: MIDWEST
Time: 9:10 p.m., Wednesday
Location: University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio
Who the Winner Will Play Next: (5) Temple, Friday (at Nashville)
South Florida 45
Line: Cal -3
Players to Watch
California: G Jorge Gutierrez, 6-3 Sr. (13.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.1 apg); G Allen Crabbe, So. (15.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.2 apg); F. Harper Kamp, 6-8 Sr. (11.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 55.1% FG). Gutierrez is capable of big games, including a 22-point, 7-assist, 6-rebound performance in Cal’s last win, a 77-71 victory over Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.
South Florida: G Anthony Collins, 6-1 Fr. (8.5 ppg, 5.3 apg, 50% FG); F Augustus Gilchrist, 6-10 Sr. (9.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg); F Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, 6-8 Jr. (8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 44.5% FG). Collins played a huge role in the Bulls turnaround this season. After having three double-figure scoring games through January, the freshman scored at least 10 points in nine of USF’s last 12 games.
Why They're Dangerous
Cal is: The Bears are led by a pair of tough, experienced seniors, including playmaker Gutierrez. That’s always a vital element in a tournament run. Cal is big and strong at nearly every position. The Bears are an efficient shooting team, ranking 20th in the nation at 47.9 percent from the floor. They also shoot well at the stripe, hitting 74.6 percent of their free throws.
South Florida: Defense. The Bulls allowed opponents to score just 58.3 points per game. Opponents shot just 44.3 percent from the floor and 30.8 from the 3-point line. Behind Collins, USF usually is able to control the pace of the game.
Why They're Vulnerable
Cal: Cal struggled with consistency all season, including late in the year when it lost 3-of-4, including two double-figure losses to Colorado. The Cal defense is average at best. It gets just 4.8 steals per game, turns teams over just 12.2 times and blocks just 3.2 shots per game. The Bears give up way too many easy baskets. While the Bears are a good free throw shooting team, they don’t get to the line often.
South Florida: Offense. The Bulls really struggle to score at 59.2 points per game, a field goal percentage of 43.6. They also struggle form the 3-point line at 31.6 percent. USF is an average rebounding team and its offense turns the ball over 13.7 times per game.
The Bottom Line: These two teams appear about even in every way. Cal, though, has more firepower and should score just enough to win the game and cover the spread.
The Pick: California 50, South Florida 44
(Winner would face #5 seed Temple)