Tuesday, February 18, 2014
When: 7:00 pm ET
RPI: Villanova: 5 | Providence: 56
KenPom: Villanova: 9 | Providence: 56
Dunkin' Donuts Center (Capacity: 12,400)
Where: Providence, RI
TV: Fox Sports 1
Odds: Villanova -4.5 | O/U: 141.5
Although Villanova and Providence have matched up since the beginning of the Big East Conference in 1979, this Catholic school duel dates back as far as 1936. Twenty-three games were played before the two joined the Big East. Today Villanova holds a commanding series lead at 53-37 all-time. The Wildcats are 10-3 against the Friars since March 11, 2004; two of those losses happened last season. But VU romped over PC 91-61 at the Pavilion this season.
The Providence College Friars are one of the least predictable teams in the Big East. They came out of the gates firing, starting the season at a 10-2 mark admittedly against weak teams. The Friars then fell three times in a row, two of which were in overtime, then rattled off 5 straight conference wins. Then lost, won, lost lost lost, won. Providence sits at fifth in the Big East stumbling at the back of the postseason hunt.
Providence can’t be categorized exclusively as an offensive or defensive team because their performance changes game to game. They average 72 ppg and allow 68 ppg, but they have potential to take over either side of the floor. Their team rebounding is weak overall, but they are particularly strong on the offensive glass with 13 offensive rebounds per game.
The team is led by Bryce Cotton, who would be in Big East POY if Doug McDermott didn’t exist (wishful thinking). Cotton is a fourth-year point guard who makes a living on volume. He plays 39.5 minutes per game and takes 27.3% of the team’s shots. After Marshon Brooks left for the NBA, the Arizona native was supposed to fill his shoes but struggled to do so efficiently. The 6-1, 165 lbs. engine-that-could scores 21.2 ppg on a 41.2% FG percentage and 36.5% from distance.
The Friars’ front court is led by Kadeem Batts, 7-footer Carson Desrosiers, and Tyler Harris. Batts contributes 12.2 ppg and 7.7 rpg through tough play. Desrosiers, a transfer from Wake Forest, swats 2.6 shots per game. LaDontae Henton chips in 13.4 ppg and 7.8 rpg, but he plays a bit too much on the wing to call him an interior player. Henton will likely be Providence’s go-to guy next season.
Ed Cooley is 143-110 (.565) as a head coach, a record which Providence’s website calls "impressive." Cooley was a three-year captain at Stonehill College before trading the jersey for the suit. He then took a tour of New England schools, coaching at 4 different MA and RI colleges before earning a head coaching job at Fairfield in 2006. Cooley accepted the job at Providence in 2011. Since then, he has brought in enough recruits and transfers to stay relevant but not successful. His teams are known to ruin my staff pick-em’s every week. Stay tuned to see how the Friars fare as Cooley’s own recruits begin taking over the program.
While we expect players to lose weight in the off-season, no one expected Coach Cooley to join the fun. Through a weight reduction surgery, he lost 100 pounds as of December. He’ll need the added mobility if the Friars do make it to the Big Dance.
I’ll skip the boring ones from Wikipedia. Actually, I’ll exclusively do the boring ones: There’s former Senator Ted Kennedy’s son Patrick. Former US Senator Chris Dodd, and his father Thomas Dodd, graduated from Providence in 1966 and 1930 respectively. Classic Friars, them two. Former RI Governor J. Howard McGrath wore black and white in his college days. See Mike's write-up for the ones I couldn't steal.
Manhattan: 7:00 PM, Mason Jar, 43 E 30th Street, New York, NY
Greater Princeton: 6:45 PM, Amalfi's, 146 Lawrenceville Pennington Rd, Lawrenceville, NJ
Hartford: 6:30 PM, The Tavern Downtown, 201 Ann Uccello St. Hartford, CT
Lehigh Valley: 7:00 PM, Stooge's Bar & Grill, 2105 Liberty Street, Allentown, PA