Unfamiliar Territory: Providence Looking for Season Sweep of Villanova

Providence has a wave of momentum after a historic double overtime win against Creighton and hosts another streaking team in their own right in Villanova. It’s rare to consider this game a potential trap game for their resume, but that’s exactly what this game is.

Villanova’s season has been largely a disappointment. There’s no other way to say it. Villanova has been bogged down by a litany of injuries to Justin Moore (although this one shouldn’t be a surprise), Cam Whitmore early in the year, and Jordan Longino. I bring this up for two reasons. One is that Villanova is finally healthy, and the results are showing in the record book of late. If Providence dares to overlook them, which I’m not sure why they would given the history with Villanova, the Wildcats will absolutely beat them at the AMP. Providence is 35-1 at home in their last 36 games, and the lone loss is to this Wildcat program last year.

The other reason I bring this up is because the Wildcats, despite all of the injuries, should be nowhere close to 13-13. This team has too much talent, even with 1 or 2 players out, to be .500. They have drastically underperformed relative to expectations (Villanova fans, you may not want to look at how Fordham is doing this year). While they are playing good ball right now, their three game winning streak has come at the hands of Butler, Seton Hall, and DePaul. If Providence wants to be ranked in the 4-6 range in the NCAA tournament, this is a win they need to have at home. Despite the history of Villanova, losing at home to them would be a bad loss for the resume. They cannot afford to slip up here.

Below, we break down what the Friars need to do to secure a victory.

Game 1 Preview and Recap

Preview: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/01/26/providence-looks-to-start-a-new-trend-against-the-kyle-neptune-led-wildcats-providence-villanova-preview/

Recap: https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/01/29/friars-spoil-justin-moores-return-get-key-road-win-at-villanova/

Keys to Victory

Get Bynum Going Early – If Bynum continues to be the starting point guard and not come off the bench as 6th man, which I anticipate will be the case, Cooley needs to get him some quality looks early. Bynum is in a shooting funk. Seeing a few shots go through the hoop early will do wonders for his confidence. Mark Armstrong and Chris Arch are solid defenders, but Bynum should have the ability to get to the hoop off the dribble when either are guarding him.

Villanova doesn’t have true big man rim protectors so Jared doesn’t necessarily have to fear a Kalkbrenner or Nunge swatting his shot away with frequency. This SHOULD be a game where Bynum thrives, as Jared poured in 19 points in the first match-up. Bynum was the reason for the win against Villanova in Game 1, and I hope Cooley is reminding him of that all week long. He needs the confidence boost.

BOC is the Broken Record – The tallest player on the court for Villanova is going to be Dixon at 6’8/6’9. So, I will repeat this again. Mr. Hopkins, please attack the rim repeatedly. Don’t stop. The jumper looks will be there if you are at the end of the shot clock, but Hopkins should be able to get high percentage attempts around the rim. I’ll keep saying it because I think one of the best traits of Hopkins is his ability to put his defender in precarious situations as he drives downhill.

Don’t Fall Asleep on Defense – Villanova can easily win this game by getting hot from deep. The best way to minimize the chance of that happening is staying honest on D and contesting all of their 3 ball looks. As we’ve discussed, Villanova shoots a high quantity of three’s, but is middle of the road when it comes to 3 point make percentage. Providence needs to be laser focused on not giving up easy looks from deep, as this is the best way for an inferior team to pull off an upset. With Longino back, it provides another deep threat for Villanova.

Play Confident – “We’re not afraid anymore” is the motto for The Providence Crier podcast when it comes to Villanova. The players should follow suit. Providence is the better team and should act accordingly. The Friars should have immense respect for Villanova and realize that there are high caliber players on that team, but should also comprehend that they are the superior squad. I’d like to see Providence come out with swagger and a confidence in knowing they should win this one. That starts with Devin Carter, Bryce Hopkins, and Ed Croswell.

Run, Run, Run – Providence should be able to “out-athlete” Villanova, and I’d like to see them exploit that in transition. Villanova did a fantastic job in game one in getting back, and I think that was obviously deliberate by Neptune. By running, it’ll create quality looks at the rim for Hopkins and Carter, while also giving trailers in Locke a potential to nail a three.


BOC: As much as this Villanova team is struggling, the culture Wright put in place is still there. You absolutely know Neptune is gearing the boys up for an MSG run to make the NCAA tournament. Providence needs to come ready to play, and I think they will. The 4:30 PM Saturday start of this game, which apparently is golf party themed for the students, will only add to the environment. Nova keeps it close throughout, but PC ends up pulling away 76-67.

Crier: My how the tables have turned! Villanova enters this one as a team that defense is the calling card and they’re fighting for their tournament lives, while the Friars have a high octane offense and sit comfortably(ish) in the field. Villanova is playing better defense but since the return of Justin Moore they’ve only eclipsed 65 points once and that was against DePaul. That won’t get it done against this Friar team. Expect a raucous crowd and I think the Friars get this win. PC 80 Nova 68.

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