Despite what some of the haters may say (or choose to believe), the Providence Friars are the defending Big East Champs and will begin their title defense Saturday afternoon at Seton Hall. The non-conference slate for the Friars was a mixed bag. The good news is that PC didn’t lose to any opponent that could impair a NCAA Tournament resume; on the flip side the Friars squandered all three chances at resume building wins.
Clearly, the Friars won’t be the favorites to repeat; however, they’re starting to come together as a team and have the talent to be a threat to repeat. Last year was no flash in the pan. In the last two games Providence was able to show what they are capable of. Is this for real or just a cupcake mirage? We will find out Saturday, let’s take a look at the matchup.
Providence at Seton Hall
12/17 12:30pm Fox
Seton Hall -4, O/U 136.5
Pirates Injury Woes– In Shaheen Holloway’s first season as head coach of the Seton Hall Pirates he’s had to deal with a serious case of the injury bug. Alexis Yetna has yet to suit up for the Pirates this season, as he battles with a knee injury. In their last game they lost two players, Pitt transfer Femi Okudale and freshman Jaquan Sanders, due to injury. Okudale has been seen in a walking boot. I highly doubt he plays against PC. Sanders is dealing with a strained groin and might be a gametime decision. It is very possible that the Pirates will only have 8 scholarship players against PC, which is worrisome given the physical nature of Providence.
PC’s Offense vs Pirates Defense- The Friars are averaging 80.3 ppg this season; however, against Miami, St. Louis, and TCU, PC’s scoring dips to 66 ppg. Seton Hall and especially Shaheen Holloway hang their hat on defending. The Pirates are only allowing 60.8 ppg. PC should have many options on offense to give their defense problems. Bryce Hopkins, for example, should be a matchup nightmare for Hall. If PC can score at least 70 points, it should be hard for the Pirates to get a win because their offense has been brutal to date.
Big East Bynum– Bynum’s lack of scoring has certainly been a talking point this season, as the preseason all-Big East guard is only averaging 8.9 points per contest. However, it should be of note that Bynum exploded on the offensive end during Big East play last year. During the Big East regular season last year Bynum averaged 15.6 ppg, so let’s not get too worried just yet. Bynum doesn’t need to put on his cape and be superman, but if he can be a serious scoring threat again the Friars will be a tough out in the Big East.
Crier: There is no doubt that Shaheen Holloway was a home run hire by Seton Hall. However, he is in the process of rebuilding Seton Hall, and with the injuries starting to pile up I like PC’s chances. If Seton Hall can muck it up and make it a low scoring game, it will give them a chance but the Friars’ offense is starting to click. It is never going to be easy to get a road win in the opener of conference play, but if PC can share the ball and get a balanced scoring attack, I see them rolling in this one. PC 80 Hall 62
BOC: We’ll see just how real this PC offense is. Can they get to their average of 80? I’m skeptical. I think it is a coming out party of sorts for Bryce Hopkins to the tune of 16 and 9. Carter’s fingerprints are all over the game with a game high 3 steals. Providence in the end does just no enough and wears out the Pirates to squeak out a victory. Providence 70 – Seton Hall 68.