#9 Providence, fresh off the win against Creighton to capture the regular season Big East title, is traveling down to Philadelphia to match up against #11 Villanova. Villanova in their first match-up at The Dunk defeated Providence 89-84 behind stellar play and sharpshooting from Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore.
We break down some key storylines heading into the game and what Providence needs to do to split the season series with the Wildcats.
Keys to the Game
- Run Gillespie and Moore off the 3 point line – These two combined for 52 points on 9 three pointers in the first match-up. Too many times, Villanova exploited Providence’s D on pick and rolls. The defensive players on the Friars went under screens too frequently and allowed the Wildcats to bury those shots from deep. Providence must play harder through the screens and not allow the guards to get quality looks from 3. If it means allowing the guards and screening big men to get good shots in the paint/midrange, so be it.
- Who Plays for Providence? With the Big East locked up, Coach Cooley may decide to rest some of his ailing players with his sights set on the Big East and NCAA Tournament. I’d be shocked if Durham plays, and he may choose to rest some of the other banged up Friars (like a Minaya for instance).
- A Win in Philadelphia Secures a Top 3 Seed in NCAA – The other side of the coin is that a road win against Villanova likely cements Providence to be a 3 seed (at worst) heading into NCAA tournament. As of right now, I firmly believe they are on that 3/4 seed line. If they beat Villanova, they should be considered a 3. So, there actually still is a lot to play for in this game.
- Learn from Game 1 and Feed Watson – The difficulty in telling Providence to limit 3’s is they will have a game like Nova where they go 22% from 3, but then play Creighton and shoot 38% from deep. This team is very hit or miss from beyond the arc, and I’d rather them expose Villanova being undersized and get Watson a ton of post touches. It is an effective offensive gameplan and also gets Dixon in foul trouble. Villanova isn’t deep in the frontcourt. Dixon in foul trouble leads to issues for the Wildcats.
BOC: The Friar trolls will love this one. I think Durham sits out, and Villanova wins rather comfortably 79-70. As much as you want your players to play every game the same way, Providence just won the regular season championship and is likely already looking ahead to the Big East and NCAA Tournament.
Crier: I’m not buying into the team sitting guys, Durham is going to keep playing until he physically can’t. Also while I think it’d be understandable for this team to have a let down in this one since they already clinched the Big East this team is just built differently. Look for the Friars to have plenty of motivation to compete in this one. I think they’ll be able to slow the game down and this game with be the rock fight people expected at the Dunk. Predicting the Friars to get a gritty win at the Pavilion 72-68 in OT and the critics will finally shut the hell up.