2012 NCAA Tournament: Can USF Become This Year's VCU?

Baily DeeterSenior Writer IIIMarch 17, 2012

South Florida's mascot cheers on the Bulls during USF's win over Temple.
South Florida's mascot cheers on the Bulls during USF's win over Temple.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

South Florida was a debatable topic for the selection committee when it came down to picking the bracket.

Now, it's clear the committee made the right decision.

After beating Cal in the First Four, South Florida beat fifth-seeded Temple 58-44, advancing to the third round against thirteenth-seeded Ohio. The Bulls' punishing defense overpowered Temple, as the Owls were held to just 44 points.

While the Bulls only scored 58 points, USF isn't known for lighting up the scoreboard. Augustus Gilchrist dominated down low, and South Florida's dynamic guards, Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd Jr, didn't let Temple's bunch of guards get the shots they wanted.

The Big East's best defense showed their true colors against Temple. Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore, and Khalif Wyatt were limited all night, and Temple shot below 36 percent during the game.

When they face a defense like this, there's no other way to go.

During the First Four, California wasn't able to get anything going, because South Florida contested shots, fought for rebounds, and didn't let anyone score two easy points.

That's what South Florida does. And what they've done looks awfully similar to what VCU did last year.

Sure, the Commodores won games because of offense, not defense, but South Florida does have a lot in common with VCU. Both were bubble teams placed in the First Four, and both dominated a Pac-12 team in the First Four. Both beat a good team in the first round by double-digits, and both knocked down their threes.

VCU was a great shooting team, and while the Bulls don't score much, they make their threes in the clutch. South Florida made 8 of 17 shots from downtown, while Temple made just 2 of 12.

Why? Because South Florida didn't let them get any open threes.

Ohio beat Michigan because D.J. Cooper and other players on their team know how to score. But when South Florida steps on the court, it's a whole different game. Even the best offenses are shut down.

The Bobcats don't know what's coming next.