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TONIGHT

USF AT PROVIDENCE

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30; Dunkin' Donuts Center.

RADIO: 1250-AM.

RECORDS: USF 6-19, 0-12 Big East; Providence 11-12, 4-8.

COACHES: USF - Robert McCullum (27-55, third season; 71-100 overall); Providence - Tim Welsh (126-111, eighth season; 196-133).

NOTABLE: Saturday's loss to Rutgers, which saw the Bulls never within single digits of the lead in the second half, eliminated them from contention for the Big East Tournament. With 12 teams advancing, Providence is on the cusp, in a three-way tie for 11th with Louisville and Notre Dame. Of the Friars' four wins, three are against DePaul and St. John's, who are below them in the standings, with the other coming against Rutgers. Providence is led by 6-foot-4 senior guard Donnie McGrath (15.4 points per game). But it has the conference's worst scoring defense, so expect a lot of points. The Friars are second-to-last in the league in defensive rebounds, so look for center Solomon Jones and forward McHugh Mattis to crash the boards for second chances. Sophomore guard Collin Dennis played his best game of the season against Rutgers, scoring a season-high 11 and committing one turnover in 29 minutes. He has hit four of his past five 3-pointers. Jones has double doubles in four of his past five games. Due to foul trouble, Mattis played a season-low 17 minutes against Rutgers, and his four rebounds matched a season low.

USF WOMEN

AT LOUISVILLE

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30, Freedom Hall.

RADIO: 570-AM.

RECORDS: USF 17-9, 7-6; Louisville 16-8, 7-6.

COACHES: USF - Jose Fernandez (76-93, sixth season); Louisville - Tom Collen (58-27, third season; 187-60 overall).

NOTABLE: A huge Big East showdown all but played atop the NCAA Tournament bubble between teams with identical league records. Louisville has dropped two in a row and saw its RPI drop to No. 38 while USF's big win Thursday against Marquette vaulted it to No. 29. ESPN.com has both in its projected NCAA field, the Cardinals as a No. 10 seed and USF a No. 12. The Cardinals are led by a tough frontcourt of 6-foot-2 Jazz Covington (13.3 points, 6.8 rebounds per game) and 6-3 Missy Taylor (10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds). So the Bulls need strong rebounding from forward Ezria Parsons (8.5 rebounds) and center Nalini Miller (7.0). USF junior Jessica Dickson remains the nation's leading scorer at 22.7 points per game, and only five of the Big East's top 20 scorers are seniors, which speaks well for the league in 2006-07. The Bulls, who lead the conference in steals and turnover margin, need a solid night from freshman point guard Shantia Grace, who had seven assists against Marquette.

- GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer

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