Providence plays Villanova at 2:30 PM EST Saturday on FOX. Providence is coming off an upset win against #11 Creighton, while Villanova came off a close victory against Seton Hall earlier in the week.
Mimic the Creighton Defensive Gameplan: In the second match-up against Creighton, Providence did a marvelous job of running shooters off the three point line. This resulted in a horrific shooting night for the Bluejays. Providence took away what Creighton does best – make 3’s.
Providence must do the same thing to Villanova. Nova is leading all Big East teams in three point field goal percentage at 37.8%. Just like Creighton, Nova is amazing at moving the ball. Providence’s defense must stay engaged the entire possession every possession. Fall asleep for a second, and they will make you pay.
If Providence puts forth a similar effort like they did against Creighton, they have a shot at the upset. If Villanova beats Providence from inside the arc, kudos to them. You have to pick your poison against Villanova, and I think this is the best approach defensively.
Avoid Fouls – Villanova leads the Big East in free throw shooting percentage at 75%. Providence needs to tap-dance along that fine line of playing physical while not being overly aggressive and fouling.
This theme should have an asterisk next to it, as the refs often dictate the type of game that is played. If the refs let both teams play without calling too many fouls, it is a huge benefit to Providence.
Make JRE work on the defensive end – This is the battle between two premiere frontcourt players in the nation. Jeremiah Robinson Earl has augmented his game by being able to knock down perimeter shots with consistency. In order to get him off rhythm, Providence needs to continually feed Watson in the low post. He will most likely be guarded by JRE and must make JRE exert effort on the defensive end. The hope is that JRE either gets in foul trouble or tires from having to play both ways for 40 minutes.
This is going to be a daunting match-up for both players.
Isolate Gillespie in the post – Collin Gillespie is the perfect point guard offensively for a Jay Wright led team. Where he falls short, due to physical limitations, is on the defensive end. I suspect we’ll see Gillespie on Breed and Justin Moore on Duke, but if Duke is ever matched against Gillespie, he needs to demand the ball in the post and take advantage of the size and strength advantage. That is an easy way to manufacture points for Duke against a tough Villanova squad.
Take Care of the Ball – This is self explanatory, but to knock off a top 5 squad, you need to play clean basketball. Even in the win against Creighton, Providence had 13 turnovers. That’s not a recipe for success.
Realize you are playing 8 vs. 5 – Just kidding. Kind of.
A win against Villanova, and Providence is on the right side of the bubble, in my opinion.