With two wins under their belt, Providence now has a real challenge on their hands, taking on the Wisconsin Badgers. Part of the Gavitt Games where Big East teams take on the Big Ten, Providence is looking to stay undefeated on the season.
Here are the keys to the game in our opinion:
1. Start Game Fast – Against Fairfield and Seton Hall, Providence has came out of the gates sluggish. You can do that against a Fairfield and Sacred Heart. You cannot do that on a road game against Wisconsin. If the Friars do not start quickly, this game has the potential to get ugly. A slow start gets the crowd energized and likely forces Providence to play out of game script.
2. Lean on Nate early and often – The Badgers don’t have somebody who can match Watson. Nate should be the focal point of the offense from the start. If they can get him rolling early, Wisconsin will have to double in the post, which leads to open looks from the perimeter.
3. Avoid foul trouble – I truthfully think the only two ways that Wisconsin wins decisively are with a slow start and with the Friars getting into foul trouble. Providence can play a bit loose at times, and we know this Wisconsin team likes to draw charges. Providence cannot play like a bull in a China shop, recklessly driving to the basket forcing something that isn’t there. Wisconsin is well-coached and will absolutely take advantage of that with charges called.
4. Play level headed – Simply put, don’t fall into the Brad Davidson trap. He’s the stereotypical guy that you love on your team and hate when you are playing against him. Davidson has a propensity for getting under the skin of the opposition, and Providence cannot fall victim to this. He is undoubtedly going to have a few plays tonight that may warrant an emotional reaction from the Friars (flop, overly aggressive foul, etc.). Don’t give into it.
5. Physical defense without fouling – Wisconsin is shooting 82% from the charity stripe. Providence cannot give them a lot of looks from the free throw line because they will end up hurting the Friars.
BOC – I’ve said on the podcast that this Providence team is better than Wisconsin, and I stand by it. We’ll learn a lot about this Friar squad tonight. Is it the same old, same old where we flounder in a “tough” out of conference game or can the Friars rise to the occasion and win one on the road? I think the latter happens. 76-73 Friars.
Crier– I’ve been pretty adamant that this is PC’s best chance at knocking off a brand name like Wisconsin on the road. This Wisconsin team is young and relatively unproven with their two wins against sub-300 KenPom opponents. PC should try to use their experience to their advantage in this one and jump on Wisconsin early. While I think PC has a great chance, I also feel like I’ve seen this movie before. Wisconsin 72 PC 64.