Who will WIN this matchup?
UConn Huskies (15-16)
South Florida Bulls (19-12)
UConn Huskies: (-120)
South Florida Bulls: (+100)
• The line for this game is UConn by 1.5 points.
• South Florida is one away from the school’s first 20-win season since 2011-12 and the eighth-seeded Bulls aim to get it Thursday when they tip off against ninth-seed Connecticut in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. USF won eight conference games this season after having that many in the previous three combined, while the Huskies increased their overall win total by one in coach Dan Hurley’s first season at the helm. USF’s resurgence is largely due to three players who arrived on campus as relative unknowns to coach Brian Gregory and ended up making huge impacts this season – redshirt freshman forward Alexis Yetna, the conference’s Freshman of the Year, and sophomore guards David Collins and Justin Brown.
• UConn has shown improvement as well this season and the Huskies have won two of their last three to end the regular season, including a 60-58 victory at home over USF at the beginning of March to earn a split of the season series. The Bulls and Huskies have met twice before in the conference tournament, with UConn taking both first-round matchups (2015, 2017), and this year’s winner advances to face top seed Houston in the quarterfinals.
• The Huskies head into the tournament with one of their key players back in the fold after missing a month as senior guard Jalen Adams returned to the lineup for the regular-season finale and finished with a double-double (13 points, 12 assists) in the team’s 82-73 win over East Carolina. Sophomore Josh Carlton also produced a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds and five Huskies in all finished in double figures in the team’s highest scoring game since the end of January. The Huskies shot 40 percent from 3-point range, quite a contrast from their performance in the recent win over USF when they went 0-for-15 from behind the arc.
• The Bulls have lost four of their last five but overall have won nine more games than last year as Yetna proved to be a dominant force on the boards, leading the American with 11 double-doubles and 9.6 rebounds per game – the second-highest single-season mark in conference history. Collins tops the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game, hitting double digits in all but four games, and he was named to the all-conference third team along with junior guard Laquincy Rideau, who was also honored as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. Rideau holds the American single-season steals record with 80 and he’s trying to become the first player to lead the conference in steals (2.9) and assists (5.5) as he currently tops the league in both categories.
• The Huskies own a 21-3 lead in the series as USF’s 76-68 victory on Jan. 2 snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Huskies.
• South Florida is the only school in the nation to have its conference leader in rebounds, assists and steals.
• UConn’s first true road win of the season came in the regular-season finale.