When Providence first met the Shaka Smart led Golden Eagles, Marquette was 8-6 and amidst a 3-game losing streak. Since then, they’ve been arguably the hottest team in college basketball with 7-straight wins including a 32 point beat down of PC in Milwaukee. The blizzard may have pushed it off a day, but they make their return trip to the Dunk, with the Friars are looking for vengeance. The streak started with the Friars, let’s end it with the Friars!
Keys to the Game
Get off to a Fast Start- Typically, this is imperative to playing on the road but I think it works here too. Providence has shown all year an ability to build a lead early and hang on for the victory, but that was not the case at Marquette. PC found themselves down 20-6 right out of the gates, and it really never got better. PC needs to get out to a quick start, that will get the crowd into it. PC is comfortable holding on to a lead rather than digging themselves out of a hole, so the quick start is a must.
DEFEND THE PICK AND ROLL!!- In the first matchup, the Friars got diced up by Marquette’s pick and roll offense. Our guys were so frustrated by it that we didn’t know if we should defend the ball handler or the roll man. The Golden Eagles took advantage of it all night long (cue Lionel Richie). According to Vin Parise, who will be on the call with Providence’s good luck charm John Fanta, the Friars have been working on this in practice. If the Friars mitigate Marquette’s pick and roll offense they should have a much better chance at victory.
Meet the Golden Eagle’s intensity – In the first game, Marquette simply out-toughed Providence. That is such a rarity to type about any Ed Cooley team, but it transpired in Milwaukee. Providence needs to match their aggression and play with an edge. Marquette, quite frankly, bullied them in the first match-up, and I expect the exact opposite to transpire in the rematch.
Justin Minaya’s Match-Up – What makes Marquette so dangerous is the multitude of wing players that can score and create on their own. Namely, I’m thinking about Maryland transfer Darryl Morsell and likely first team Big Easter Justin Lewis. Personally, I think Lewis is the focal point of this offense, and I’d dedicate Minaya to guarding him, but that leaves Morsell with a chance to exploit whomever guards him. Providence doesn’t match up defensively too well with this team, unfortunately.
Get Bynum in Isolation Sets against Kolek – Bynum is scorching hot right now, and I’d be drawing up isolation sets for the speedy Bynum against Kolek. Kolek is the maestro offensively, but I think this is a match-up that could be exploited for the Friars.
Ensure Kuath has to Guard Outside the Paint – Kuath dominated the frontcourt of the Friars in the first game. He had seven blocks and displayed absolute dominance defensively. Kuath is inevitably going to get a few blocks and alter a few more attempts, but I’d work to get him in some precarious defensive positions on the perimeter. Pick and roll scenarios where Kuath gets switched onto the guard away from the hoop may mitigate his impact. With that said, I’m skeptical.
Let me take you back in time, That’s So Raven— I’m sorry I took that from Jameis Winston as that was how he started one of his pregame speeches. Regardless, in 2020 the Friars had it rolling winning the most games against ranked opponents in a calendar month. All that was left to do was to close out the massive in season turn around and beat DePaul at home. The game wasn’t a contest. The Friars won running away 93-55 and most of the second half was just a celebration. I know this Marquette team is much more talented than that DePaul squad. I also know that Marquette is the hottest team in the country. However, I just think the Friars are coming off the high of the big road win. They know the national narrative, and they will look to smash Marquette. PC wins 81-61.
I don’t have the confidence of Crier; however, I think this team comes out with a noticeable edge after getting waxed in Marquette. Providence wins a close one 76-73.