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Tuesday, March 10, 2009


March 10, 2009

Another recent rematch from two weeks ago takes place in the nightcap of the opening round of the 2009 Big East Tournament when Seton Hall faces South Florida.

Seton Hall earned the 11th seed in the conference tournament when they rallied in the second half and ended up beating Cincinnati in overtime on the road Saturday. Bobby Gonzalez's team has continued to play hard all season with just seven eligible scholarship players and will look to earn a Big East Tourney win at the Bulls' expense.

Tonight is a first for the USF program as they are competing in their very first conference tournament game since joining the Big East. Previously, the Big East only invited the top 12 finishers to Madison Square Garden for the annual 'Garden Party', but with the expansion of the conference tourament to all 16 teams, the Bulls have been welcomed in.

Here are some pregame stories and previews from around the internet:

At Last, USF Bulls Feels they Belong in Big East (St. Pete Times)
Bulls Back at Garden (Tampa Tribune)
Seton Hall Enters Postseason with chip on their Shoulder (Star-Ledger)
Bulls Arrive in 'Garden' in Good Spirits (Tampa Tribune)

The Bulls are coming off a pitiful performance on Saturday afternoon when they lost at Rutgers 45-42. USF shot just 29.8% from the field as they fell to 4-14 in the Big East. While the four wins represented the most in a single Big East season for USF, they still have a long ways to go to become a challenger in this conference.

On February 25th, USF saw Seton Hall pull away from a two-point halftime lead to beat the Bulls 75-60 at the Prudential Center, just across the river from NYC in Newark (NJ). In that game, Dominique Jones (20), Augustus Gilchrist (20) and Alex Rivas-Sanchez (18) combined for 58 of the USF 60 points. Only Eladio Espinosa added another two points to the total.

The Bulls will need similar games from that trip as well as some production from Chris Howard and senior Jesus Verdejo, who has missed much of the last three weeks because of injury. Verdejo gave it a go against SHU the first time, but the Bulls second leading scorer was held scoreless in 21 minutes.

Jerem Hazell led SHU in the first meeting, scoring 20, and he also had help from Robert Mitchell (17) and Eugene Harvey (15) in the win. While the Pirates are not deep, neither are the Bulls, and the top five or six that Seton Hall will use is more talented, especially offensively.

The NCAA Basketball Odds have Seton Hall favored by 5 1/2-points tonight. This should be a relatively easy win for Bobby Gonzalez's team.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Seton Hall 78
South Florida 68



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