Providence, 14-2 and coming off a very nice win at home against St. John’s, looks to head into Omaha and get a road win on the Creighton Blue Jays. This is the first game of a big week for Providence, matching up at home against UCONN on Saturday.
In staying true to form, we give below a breakdown of the Creighton Blue Jays and our blueprint for how the Friars should look to execute to secure the ever difficult Big East road win.
Creighton is 10-4 overall and 2-1 in the Big East. In their last game, they were handily beaten by Villanova 75-41. Make no mistake about it though. This Creighton is legitimate, especially in a raucous home environment. They beat that same Villanova squad 79-59 to open Big East play.
The team is a very young team, but is led by D2 Transfer Ryan Hawkins. Hawkins averages 13 and 7 and is a weapon from all facets of the court. He is averaging a shade under 36% from 3. Sophomore big man Ryan Kalkbrenner has continued his upward trajectory from his freshman year to this year, pouring in 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks a game. Freshman sensation Ryan Nembhard and Duke transfer Alex O’Connell round out the backcourt for Creighton.
Keys to Friar Victory
- Similar to St. John’s game, don’t get into a track meet – No matter who is on the roster for Creighton, the offensive system in place by Coach McDermott lends itself to strong offensive production. Creighton wants to get out and run in the open court. Providence needs to slow the game down and muck it up a bit to prevent this from happening. Creighton doesn’t have the shot creators like they historically have had, so getting them to create offense in a half court set, rather than in transition, is ideal.
- Get Kalkbrenner in foul trouble – Kalkbrenner is going to be a thorn in the side of the Big East for the next 2+ years. Providence should build off the strong second half from Nate Watson against St. John’s and establish him early. Kalkbrenner has the size over Watson, but I question if he has the athleticism and strength to handle a big the caliber of Watson. If they can get him in early foul trouble, it hurts Creighton’s chances of securing a victory.
- Can Horchler get back on track? – Lost amidst the win against St. John’s was another subpar showing from Noah Horchler on the offensive end. He was 0-5 from 3 and only 2-7 from the floor. He did other things to contribute like securing 13 rebounds; however, I’m hopeful that a match-up against Creighton gets him back on track. With Reeves likely not playing, we need some threats from deep.
- Starting Line-Up: Potential Change – With Reeves out, Breed got the start against St. John’s, but didn’t produce in a manner that justifies him continuing to start. Bynum, on the other hand, was magnificent on the offensive end. Bynum poured in 18 points on 32 minutes. Bynum may be best served continuing to come off the bench as a microwave scoring option, and I wouldn’t be opposed to it. It will be interesting if there is a Breed/Bynum swap in the starting line-up.
- Be ready for the crowd – Dollar beer night in Omaha means that this crowd will be ready to go. There will be a time or two in the game where Creighton goes on the run, and the Friars will need to be ready to counter punch when that happens with a run of their own. Providence, outside of the Marquette games, has shown they can handle runs from the opposition.
BOC – I particularly like this match-up for Providence. As much as Creighton may provide a problem for Providence with their multitude of scorers, the length and aggressiveness of Providence will also cause fits for the Bluejay offense. Providence also has a lot more experience than Creighton. The game should come down to if the Creighton offense hits tough shots because I doubt we see a lapse in defense like we did against Marquette.
With all that said, I think Creighton squeaks this one out and secures a close win. 76 – 73 Creighton.
Crier- This is a tough game to pick, the Crier fully understands the power of $1 beer night in Omaha. Here’s though why I like the Friars- PC is the 9th ranked team in experience, while Creighton sits at 308. Yes I know Marquette is less experienced than Creighton and that didn’t stop them from blowing our doors off. However I think the Friars have learned some lessons from their past road trip. Keep it close in the first half and our experience will prevail in the end. I like PC in a little bit of a rock fight 67-65.