Preview: Men’s basketball vs. South Florida

From left: Kevin Larsen, Patricio Garino and Matt Hart celebrate the Colonials' upset of No. 6 Virginia Monday night. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor
From left: Kevin Larsen, Patricio Garino and Matt Hart celebrate the Colonials’ upset of No. 6 Virginia Monday night. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor
What: Men’s basketball (2-0) vs. South Florida (0-2)
Where: USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Fla., ESPN3 (T.V.)
When: Thursday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m.

Coming off one of their biggest wins in 20 years, the Colonials will look to remain undefeated in their 2015-2016 campaign Thursday night when they travel to Tampa to face the Bulls.

GW’s trip to Florida will be its first test on the road this year, but should be a significantly easier matchup compared to No. 6 Virginia, who the Colonials upset 73-68 Monday night.

The Bulls went a disappointing 9-23 overall last season and have finished last in the American Athletic Conference the past two years with back-to-back 3-15 records in league play. 2015 is off to a similar start for USF, who has already fallen to 0-2 after losses to mid-majors Troy and NJIT.

Case for the Colonials:

GW is off to a hot start and should be confident heading into the game. If there’s anything most likely to add to that confidence once the game begins, it’s their superior ball-handling which could lead to a lot more chances at the basket for GW in this game.

The Bulls are turning the ball over 19 times per game and forcing only 11.5 turnovers per game from opponents, and have yet to play a team of GW’s quality.

USF doesn’t shoot well, hitting 37.6 percent of shots from the field and 30.2 percent from beyond the arc, and GW should have ample options on offense. Senior forward Kevin Larsen and junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh should be able to outmuscle the Bulls’ frontcourt easily. If the Colonials’ new-and-improved outside shooting finally gets hot in a game that counts, the score could get lopsided quickly.

Case for the Bulls:

This reads like a prime candidate for a letdown game. If there’s a Virginia hangover for the Colonials, playing on the road for the first time, it could get dicey, especially with the Bulls playing with a lot on the line, searching for their first win.

USF also hasn’t been blown out in either loss, by five points to Troy and three to NJIT.

Freshman guard Jahmal McMurray is the top threat, averaging 17.5 points per game, but USF has three other players, senior forward Angel Nunez (14.5), junior forward Chris Perry (10) and sophomore guard Roddy Peters (10) averaging double-digit scoring numbers.

The Bulls’ top producing forwards, Nunez and Perry, are both 6-foot-8, but the Bulls could also throw in 6-foot-11 senior center Jaleel Cousins to compete with GW’s size. USF has slightly outrebounded opponents despite two losses and is averaging an impressive 9.5 blocks per game.

Bottom Line: This is a test of GW’s focus, more than anything. The Colonials are the better team and should win but, on the road, they will have a chance to show that they can dominate in a game in which they are favored.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.