Providence takes on a wounded Butler team, coming off a loss to Southern Illinois. The game is at Hinkle Field house with a 6pm tip and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Net.
What to watch for:
Jair Bolden’s Late Career Emergence: Bolden, a grad transfer from South Carolina who originally started his career at George Washington, is flourishing with a change of scenery. Bolden is averaging a collegiate career high in points at 14/game, 3 points higher than his previous high at 11/game. Bolden is doing well alongside Aaron Thompson, putting up a surprisingly formidable backcourt. Which leads us to…
Aaron Thompson’s Health: Everybody anticipated Thompson to lead this team, but not to this degree. He is leading the team at scoring at 17 a game, which is impressive in a vacuum. What is more impressive when looking at his production is that his scoring average jumped 10 points from his previous high.
Thompson is currently hampered by an injury and missed the last game against Southern Illinois. His missing the game had immediate ramifications, as they lost. Even if he is playing against Providence, he won’t be 100%. Look for Thompson to either not play or be on a “pitch count”. Either way, Providence should be in attack mode in the backcourt.
Breakout Game for Reeves: This is more of a bold prediction, but I think the late shot by Reeves to win against the Pirates gives him the kickstart he needs. Look for him to be aggressive on the offensive end. I anticipate Reeves to score 12+.
Watson Continues his Hot Streak: Bryce Nze is a formidable front court player (2nd team all Big East was a bit of stretch, but I presumed it was due to quantity of touches he would be getting with the losses of players from last year), but I anticipate Watson to feast in this matchup. Nze is an undersized junkyard dog type, but is giving up about 4 inches and approximately 20-30 pounds. Look for Watson to achieve another double double in this one and assert himself.
Prediction: This is contingent on Thompson being less than 100% and potentially not playing. Providence wins 72-65.