South Fla. holds off FAU for 11th straight win

South Fla. holds off FAU for 11th straight win

College basketball fans need to get familiar with Amir Abdur-Rahim’s name.

The first-year head coach at South Florida led the Bulls to their 11th straight win Sunday when they held off Florida Atlantic, 90-86, as six-point home underdogs.

Junior guard Selton Miguel led the way with 25 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. Senior guard Chris Youngblood added 23 points thanks to 12-of-13 shooting from the free-throw line, and junior forward Corey Walker Jr. finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and one steal.

USF led by as many as 25 points early in the second half, but the Owls made a furious comeback to hook me up with multiple winners on live bets as double-digit underdogs.

The win elevated South Florida (19-5 straight up, 16-5-3 against the spread) from #99 to #92 in the NET rankings. Despite owning the nation’s third-longest winning streak, the Bulls are only #100 at KenPom.

Abdur-Rahim’s team is now 1-0 against Quad-1 opponents, 3-3 versus Quad-2 foes, 5-0 against Q3 teams and 10-2 vs. Q4 opponents. USF’s home losses to Central Michigan (68-63 back on Nov. 15) and Maine (70-59 on Nov. 22) are killing their resume.

The Bulls were 2-4 when they went down to Sunrise to take on FSU on Dec. 9. The light switch came on that day, as they blasted the Seminoles 88-72 as 7.5-point underdogs.

USF is 17-1 SU and 14-1-3 ATS in its 18 games since Dec. 9. The lone defeat in that stretch came in a 75-71 setback at UAB on Jan. 7. The Bulls’ best wins before knocking off FAU yesterday were the neutral-court win over #84 (at KenPom) FSU, a 74-73 win at #90 Memphis, a 60-55 victory at #74 North Texas and a 72-69 home triumph vs. #99 Charlotte.

USF is now 12-1 in league play and alone at the top of the American Athletic Conference’s standings. The Bulls have a one-game edge over Charlotte and a two-game lead over both FAU and SMU.

It isn’t too late for USF to enter the bubble picture, but Abdur-Rahim’s squad doesn’t have any room for error. In their five regular-season games remaining, the Bulls have road games at UTSA, at Charlotte and at Tulsa, in addition to home contests vs. SMU and vs. Tulane.

This Sunday’s home game vs. the Mustangs and the March 2 trip to Charlotte represent Quad-2 opportunities. If USF wins its five remaining games, it will have a 24-5 record going into the AAC Tournament at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX.

At that point, you would think the Bulls would probably be in that bubble mix. On a neutral court, another meeting with FAU would probably represent a Q1 opportunity, while potential matchups vs. North Texas, Charlotte and Memphis would likely offer chances to add Q2 wins to USF’s resume.

Regardless of whether or not USF earns its first NCAA Tournament invite since 2012, gamblers should have this red-hot squad on their radars. The Bulls’ 16-5-3 ATS mark is the nation’s third-best behind only Minnesota (22-3 ATS) and Texas A&M-CC (16-4).

If KenPom’s forecasted numbers end up being accurate, USF will be a small underdog vs. SMU and at Charlotte. In 10 previous games as underdogs, they’re 7-2-1 ATS with seven outright victories.